Swimwatch Obsessed Or Consistent?

This post is my final report on the Stuff article that discusses my application before the Human Rights Tribunal to see the Marris Report into complaints made about my coaching. For some reason SNZ is running scared, determined to avoid me seeing my privacy information. Why does it do that? What is in the Marris Report that turns the President of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) into a lump of wobbly blancmange? Why is Cotterill prepared to absorb the accusation from a government agency that his organisation is in need of privacy training?

We know for certain SNZ is not protecting David Wright. That means there is either something in the Report that is so shocking about SNZ that Cotterill is prepared to put up with any shame rather than have the Report’s contents revealed. Or Cotterill is so scared of one of the complainants, Susan Turner, suing SNZ on some spurious charge that he would rather have SNZ’s reputation shredded that run the risk of Turner’s wrath.

I don’t know what it is, but in my view, there is certainly something that has exposed the limits of Cotterill’s courage – or lack of it.

This brings me to the sentence in the Stuff news article I want to discuss. The journalist, Dana Johannsen, said this.

David Wright has been, “the source of constant antagonism towards SNZ for more than a decade. The archive of his blog,” she said, “is a tome of bitterness towards the national body, with his distrust of the leadership spanning multiple regime changes.”

In my previous Swimwatch post I discussed the implications of the term “tome of bitterness towards the national body” Here is a summary of what I said.

Was it wrong to protest when New Zealand’s best swimmers were charged $5,300 each to represent the country at a World Championships? Was it a mistake to highlight the Kapiti girl who lost her front teeth diving into the shallow end of the Kilbirnie Pool? Was there fault in highlighting the waste involved in SNZ’s centralized training policy? Are there any of those issues that Dana thinks should have been ignored?

And today should we disregard the fact that those running the sport have chosen to flout a recommendation of the Privacy Commission? Is it wrong to be concerned that the CEO and Board of SNZ have received a government agency recommendation that they undertake a program of privacy training? Should we pretend that didn’t happen? Because if we do Dana, events occur like a few years ago when I complained about a topless photograph taken in the girls changing room at the national championships and posted on Instagram and the CEO of SNZ told me it wasn’t a problem.

So, no I do not believe the issues debated on Swimwatch are the ravings of a delusional faultfinder. What is said here might not always be right. But a lot of what is said needs to see the light of day.

Dana Johannsen also says, “his distrust of the leadership spanning multiple regime changes”.

The implication of this opinion is that I am obsessed. Johannsen is attempting to make the case that I must be a fanatic because I was a critic of an early SNZ regime. When that regime changed, when I got what I wanted, I was still a critic. When the regime changed again, I continued to be a critic and so on for what Johannsen calls “multiple regime changes”.

The phrase “multiple regime changes” is verging on fake news. A respected news organisation, like Stuff, should not indulge in embellishment. Including the current regime there have been three SNZ regimes during the current Swimwatch era. Until 2012 SNZ was managed by Chairman Coulter and CEO Byrne. Then for four or five years Chairman Layton and CEO Renford led the organization. Most recently Chairman Cotterill and CEO Johns have been in charge. So that’s three regimes. I guess that is “multiple” but three does not really meet the implications of the term “spanning multiple regime changes”. That’s a journalist wanting to peddle her personal opinion, rather than accurately report the news. The idea is to convey the view that I was a complainer who SNZ could never satisfy. My complaints represented a short-coming in me rather than SNZ.

However that is not the case. There might have been three regimes but the policies have stayed the same. My complaint is not with the six individuals who have run the place. Through the years I have said that a hundred times. My complaint is about their policies. The reason I continue to complain is because through what Stuff calls “multiple regime changes” the policies that have caused swimming to fail, have not changed. My complaint is with twenty years of the same policies not three changes of personnel.

For example in 2002 my daughter was selected to represent New Zealand in the Pan Pacific Games. She made a semi-final and shared a relay New Zealand open record. When she arrived home SNZ sent her an invoice for $3,000 for the cost of her airfare and accommodation. Move forward 16 years and New Zealand world championship swimmers were charged $5,300 to attend the World Championships in Japan. I complained in 2002 and complained again in 2018. It might be a sin, as far as Stuff is concerned, to complain about something a few regimes apart. The reality is, whether the invoice was signed by the then SNZ CEO in 2002 or by Steve Johns in 2018, the complaints are the same complaints.

The policies that have reduced New Zealand’s elite performance from two Olympic Gold medals in 1996 to one Commonwealth Bronze medal in 2018 are the focus of my concern. The same policies, in the same period, have seen income, government funding, membership and the number of coaches decline by an average of 18%. Because the leadership has changed three times should we take Stuff’s advice and ignore the sport’s steady decay?

A good analogy might be that a hard right conservative will find very little that a left wing government does acceptable. Similarly a left wing liberal will find very little to support in a conservative government. Even when the leaders change the policy differences remain. The philosophical disagreements are just too extreme. And so for example when Coulter, Byrne, Layton, Renford, Cotterill and Johns spent $30million on a failed centralised training policy – sure I complained. But, contrary to the accusation implied in the Stuff report, that was not because I was an inconsistent whinger. The reality was that for twenty years I was a consistent critic of the same policy; the same appalling waste.

Cotterill is as smooth as butter. In this case, it seems to me, he has conned the socks off a Stuff reporter who should have dug deeper into the substance of his spin than she did on this occasion.

0 responses. Leave a Reply

  1. Swimwatch


    Be the first to leave a comment!

Comments are closed.