How To Waste 29 Million Dollars

The previous Swimwatch post discussed how Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) managed to get the government to hand over $29 million. SNZ made promises they could not keep. They issued false prospectuses. They lied. This post will look at the other side of the balance sheet. How did SNZ spend the money? We have said that it was wasted because of three words – centralisation, ignorance and greed.

We have often discussed the failures of the centralised training program. It took SNZ nineteen years to realise the truth of what they were being told. But eventually it dawned on them and centralisation was abandoned. The fact it took nineteen years to realise the obvious says all we need to know about the IQ of those in Antares Place.  Sadly what Gary Francis offered as a replacement to centralised training is no better.

We have also commented on the role ignorance has played in the failure of swimming. Recently I explained how my high school swimming was inadequate preparation to help international athletes. Primary school arithmetic classes do not equip you to teach quantum physics to doctorate-level mathematicians. In fact a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. When I look back on my early coaching mistake it is a wonder that Toni, Nichola and Jane survived. I’m sure they would not have prospered had it not been for the wise counsel of Jelley and Lydiard. To my credit it took me a lot less than nineteen years to understand their message.

The CVs on display at SNZ reek of high school swimming sports. For example this is how the SNZ website describes Chairman Bruce Cotterill’s interest in sport.

Bruce is passionate about swimming and has been an active swimmer all of his life. He was a competitive swimmer in his teens before becoming active in Surf Life Saving and subsequently Triathlon and Ocean Swimming which has enabled him to remain involved in the sport to this day. In addition to swimming, Bruce plays golf and tennis.

A competitive swimmer in his teens, active in surf lifesaving, senior triathlons, golf and tennis – seriously I cannot imagine a worse CV to guide the career of a Lauren Boyle than that. I’d rather start with someone who had spent his/her sporting career sitting on a couch playing Space Invaders than Cotrerill’s amateur fruit salad.

Steve Johns claims a similar CV. The SNZ website says.

Johns also has a successful background as a sporting participant in water sports as a former New Zealand water polo representative and a titleholder in national surf lifesaving and age group swimming.

Of course Cotterill was going to pick Johns to be CEO – water polo, surf lifesaving and age-group swimming. Spot the difference. No wonder performance swimming in New Zealand is a mess.

Gary Francis has at least spent time on the side of a pool. Sadly once again the bulk of it has been with para-swimmers or age-group members of the North Shore Swimming Club. Again his experience is that “Gee Whiz” brigade stuff that is such a danger to senior performance swimmers. In my opinion the three guys running swimming in New Zealand are not equipped to do the job. Their training and background almost guarantees they will make bad decision. We should not therefore be surprised when that is what happens.

But the characteristic that has the greatest negative effect on the sport is greed. All the $29 million given to SNZ has been wasted on administration. Only a few pennies have gone to those who produce. Swimmers, coaches and clubs have seen next to nothing. Johns and Francis live like kings while the sport dies of malnutrition. The manner in which the money has been spent is a disgrace.

You will see that the total spent by SNZ comes to more than $29 million. The reason for that is because SNZ receive income, not only from the government, but also from affiliation fees, sales and other grants. Here then is an analysis of how Cotterill, Johns and Francis and their predecessors have spent the $29 million given by the government (ie, you and me – the taxpayers) and the income received from others.

It should be noted that when I talk about money paid to swimmers I mean money, like wages, actually paid to swimmers to spend as they wish; to buy a car, put a deposit on a house, buy groceries, live like normal human beings. Paying for a Francis ego trip training camp in Auckland does not count as money being paid to swimmers. Here are the numbers.

Year $ Admin. $ Swimmers % Admin % Swimmers
2000 1249484 58711 95.5 4.5
2001 1253153 20730 98.4 1.6
2002 1364388 44500 96.9 3.1
2003 1375124 57500 96.0 4.0
2004 1965577 36750 98.2 1.8
2005 2363429 33400 98.6 1.4
2006 3444307 222637 93.9 6.1
2007 3794184 224631 94.1 5.9
2008 3152086 220895 93.4 6.6
2009 3059963 275926 91.7 8.3
2010 3366829 329138 91.1 8.9
2011 3784182 340084 91.8 8.2
2012 4136472 327437 92.7 7.3
2013 3988307 332394 92.3 7.7
2014 4453949 181299 96.1 3.9
2015 3512320 232526 93.8 6.2
2016 3740197 132430 96.6 3.4
2017 3389598 128148 96.4 3.6
2018 2999702 95498 96.9 3.1
TOTAL/AV. 56393251 3294634 94.2 5.8

Figures do not lie. In nineteen years since the year 2000 SNZ has spent $59,687,885. Of that total $56.4 million (94.2%) has been spent on administration; spent by bureaucrats like Johns, Cotterill and Francis on themselves and their SNZ Empire. Swimmers on the other hand were paid only $3.3 million (5.8%).

And even those disastrous figures are putting SNZ in the best possible light. Most of the $3.3 million credited in these figure as being paid by SNZ to swimmers is PEGS and Prime Minister’s money paid by the central Government. SNZ has no option but to give it to the swimmers. My bet is Cotterill, John and Francis would take that too if they could.

Without the money given to swimmers by central Government – in other words money paid to swimmers from SNZ funds, the numbers since the year 2000 would be:

Paid on Admin. Paid to Swimmers % to Admin % to Swimmers
56,393,251 152,500 0.2 99.8

So take your pick – SNZ at best has given swimmers 5.8% of its income or at worst 0.2%. Either way I’m sure that must seem wrong to you. Whether swimmers are getting five cents from each dollar or one cent from every five dollars it has been a “Great SNZ Rip-off”.

Here we have an organisation responsible for the welfare of swimmers, which is forever telling the world how important swimmers are, and yet spends 94.2% or 99.8% of its money on itself and only 5.8% or 0.2% on New Zealand’s swimmers. That is greed and it is killing the sport, not only in New Zealand but around the world. Fortunately swimmers are beginning to understand the injustice. $56.4 million spent on the Antares Place office while 6,000 swimmers get as little as $152,500 is flat out wrong.

Greed has hurt the sport of swimming badly. Fortunately it is also going to see the sport change. Questions that yesterday would never have been asked are now demanding answers. Is Antares Place value for money? Is it worth $56.4 million? What would happen if it was savagely cut in size? Do swimmers deserve a more? As sure as god made little green apples what has happened since the year 2000 is not right. It has to change.

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