Regular Swimwatch readers will have realised by now that my support for swimming in New Zealand has changed. The new decentralised structure is making a difference. Those involved in running the business in Antares Place, in the Regions and in Clubs can get on and do what they should be doing without Bruce Cotterill or Jan Cameron interfering where they are not needed. Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) should take the opportunity of the AGM to pat itself on the back for a remarkable transition.

Of course, decentralisation means more work for everyone. But that effort now has a purpose. A purpose that will result in a better, happier, safer, bigger and more successful sport.

That does not mean there will not be problems to solve. The Annual General Meeting is an event where the membership can ask questions of Tongue and Johns. The purpose is not to tear down but to obtain information and ask about events that might need to be addressed. In other words – constructive questions. Here is the first question that came to my mind when I read the 2021 Annual Report.

This post will address only this first question. It is an important one and merits a post of its own. The next Swimwatch post, this weekend, will address the financial issues raised in the Report.  

Question One

The Board needs to be asked serious questions about the proposed new Motions 5 and 6. These have the effect of allowing SNZ to get itself involved in the management of swimming pools and learn to swim businesses throughout New Zealand. It would not be unreasonable to see this as another step outside the organisation’s core business.

This is what motions 5 and 6 say.

To promote the safety and cleanliness of swimming pools and waterways in which our Members swim.

To own and operate commercial ventures which further the Objects

Having failed to make the take over of elite training work, SNZ are now attempting to clear the way to extend their empire from the bottom up. Just like elite training, who manages swimming pools and runs learn to swim schools is none of SNZ’s business. But that appears to be what these two clauses are trying to achieve. SNZ just can’t help themselves. They must get themselves involved in businesses that are better run by private enterprise.

Businesses that currently run pools or swim schools should look on these proposed changes with horror and concern. Imagine what would happen to the Waterhole business if SNZ took over learn to swim at West Wave, the Trent Bray Swim School, Mairangi Bay and the Millennium Institute. Imagine the effect on private enterprise companies if SNZ took over the learn to swim and pool management in Wellington. If you are a learn to swim operator in Stratford, or Taihape or Dannevirke or Palmerston North or Nelson or Gore image the effect on your business when SNZ takes over the management of your local pool or the competitor you work alongside at present.

Because that is what the effect of these two motions will be. There are occasions when SNZ needs saving from itself, and this is one of them. Just like what happened when SNZ tried its hand at elite coaching, the invasion into pool management and learn to swim management will fail and will damage those two activities in the process. Worse than that it will damage SNZ’s core business for another 25 years.

For the good of swimming in New Zealand and for the good of SNZ these two motions need to be soundly defeated. I am no great religious scholar but there is a verse that describes the danger of these two motions. It says, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment and cast lots”.

The SNZ membership should not allow the private enterprise assets of swimming in New Zealand to be subject to the socialist empire building that has spoilt SNZ once before.

Incidentally I am uncomfortable with the knowledge that Davin Bray is Head of SNZ’s Education and Water Safety and for many years (11) was Managing Director of the Trent Bray Swim School. For 2.5 years he was also General Manager of contracted swimming facilities for the Auckland Council. Is this whole thing just an effort to flog-off a swim-school and make some money for the Bray family on the way through? Is it a way of getting more money out of pool and learn to swim businesses in order for them to obtain a registration or operate according to SNZ imposed rules? The membership needs to be told if Davin Bray has been involved in any meetings or correspondence or telephone calls that discussed, recommended, or voted on the introduction of these two AGM motions. If he has and there is a proposal for SNZ to buy into the Bray family business, then that would be most serious.   

Finally, it beats me how the same three guys who did away with SNZ’s failed invasion of elite training (Tongue, Johns and Francis) can turn around and propose the same invasion of pool management and learn to swim. One of them needs to explain the logic of that to the membership. And Davin Bray needs to declare a conflict of interest with the whole thing. I’m surprised and disappointed he hasn’t already.  

We will consider the financial matters that arise in the Annual Report next week.

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