Swimwatch readers will know of our support for New Zealand swimmer’s “Give-a-little” fundraising efforts. We applaud the fundraising initiative of the swimmers. We reject completely the idea that New Zealand’s best swimmers should be forced to raise funds from the public in order to get to a World Championship. Getting swimmers to a world event is Swimming New Zealand’s (SNZ) job. Swimmers paying their own way is a symbol of the organisation’s failure.

But it seems SNZ are oblivious to their failure. Either that or they just don’t care. In the organisation’s newsletter SNZ has gone as far as to advertise five swimmer’s “Give-a-little” appeals. Here is what the SNZ news item says.


A total of 16 athletes will represent New Zealand at the 14th FINA World Short Course Championships in Hangzhou, China from 11 – 16 December. A number of athletes have Give-a-little fundraising campaigns to help them achieve their goals at the event. Please donate and spread the word to support our swimmers.

The five swimmers who have current fundraising appeals are shown in the table below. The table also shows how much each swimmer has raised. In most cases the $5,300 SNZ is charging each swimmer is still some way away. I recommend to anyone who has a couple of dollars to spare to help these guys out.

Emma Godwin Sundevils Give-a-little page. 3,877.67
Ruby Matthews Evolution Give-a-little page. 941.00
George Schroder North Shore Give-a-little page. 1,991.00
Wilrich Coetzee North Shore Give-a-little page. 1,912.69
Vanessa Ouwehand St Peter’s Give-a-little page. 1,720.00

Supporting the swimmer’s fundraising does not diminish my contempt for SNZ’s negligence. It certainly does not alter my disdain for the SNZ decision to advertise the swimmer’s appeals. What does that decision say? Seems to me it says, “We screwed up. We can’t meet our obligations. So we want New Zealanders to bail us out and pay for swimmers to represent the country.”

It is shameless. It is corrupt. It is a lie. Several aspects make it below contempt.

First, New Zealanders are already paying. Through the government we pay Coterill, Johns and Francis the best part of a million dollars a year. We pay to support swimmers. We pay so the nation’s best swimmers won’t have to ask for help. We do not pay to support the bloated lifestyles of bureaucrats sitting in Antares Place.

Second, consider what Cotterill, Johns and Francis are actually asking to raise money for. It may seem like SNZ are asking New Zealanders to contribute to the travel costs of five New Zealand swimmers. But that’s not the case. SNZ have abandoned the swimmers so that they can continue to spend a fortune on themselves. Cotterill, Johns and Francis can’t pay for swimmers because all the “normal” funds are being spent on themselves. Paying for swimmers would mean cutting back on their bloated lifestyles. They are certainly not going to agree to that. Drive a smaller car – certainly not. Take a cut in pay – hell no. Work out of a cheaper office – don’t be ridiculous. Cut out unnecessary junkets to Japan and China – that’s crazy. Book cheaper flights – good God we can’t fly on an Asia airline.

The problem with the “Give-a-little” fundraising is that the money is indirectly going to Cotterill and Francis and Johns. By charging the swimmers $5,300 each SNZ are saving themselves $84,800. Where is the $84,800 going? It’s going to pay Francis’ $40 Chinese breakfasts and Johns’ trip to Japan and Cotterill’s director’s fees. You haven’t noticed any of those costs being reduced. Of course not – don’t be silly. There is no need for management spending to be reduced. Not when SNZ can screw a few more dollars out of the New Zealand public and get swimmers to pay for themselves. It is blatant slavery. No wonder Adam Peaty and others are desperate to see a professional league look after swimmers’ interests.

Third, it is interesting to note that 119 New Zealanders have contributed to the five “Give-a-little” appeals. The total donated is $10,442.36. All that is fantastic. But there is a feature of the giving that stands out above all others. Not one cent has been contributed by SNZ, or Cotterill, or Johns, or Francis. Their news item says, “Spread the word to support our swimmers.” That means spread the word to everyone except Cotterill, Johns and Francis. They are not about to spend a cent.

They take plenty though. Johns and Francis cost us something like $300,000 a year. They ask New Zealanders to dig deep to contribute. But don’t expect them to remove the cobwebs from their wallets and donate a few dollars. There is no way in the world that’s going to happen. They are shameless. When there is a real test of commitment, Cotterill, Johns and Francis fall desperately short. When Emma, Ruby, George, Wilrich and Vanessa ask them for help there is nothing. I don’t think Cotterill, Francis and Johns care about the swimmers. As long as Francis gets his fare paid, I suspect, that’s all he cares about. If it wasn’t, we would see his donation to each of the swimmers’ appeals.

The mistreatment of New Zealand’s best swimmers will have two direct consequences. First, swimming membership will continue to decline. Adult swimmers are not going to put up with this abuse. There are better things to do than spend five hours a day in a pool to become an international swimmer only to have three Antares Place fat cats tell you to pay for the privilege of being successful.

And second, New Zealand is going to become the perfect place to nurture the attraction of a professional league. It is impossible to escape the thought that if Cotterill, Johns and Francis are only going to look after themselves, if swimmers are going to have to raise thousands of dollars to swim for their country, then swimmers need to be involved with an organisation that has their interests at heart.

I hope SNZ does continue with their selfish behaviour. I hope Cotterill, Johns and Francis do continue to mismanage the organisation. They are clearly sowing the seeds of failure.  What is going on in FINA with the ISL is the future of swimming. Forget Cotterill, Johns and Francis. They are yesterday’s men. New Zealand’s best swimmers should catch the ISL bus. Swimmers of the world unite.

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