This post was going to be titled, “New Zealand Tennis Player Wins World’s Fifth Grand Slam.” Except that wouldn’t be true. The player is Cameron Norrie. He learned his tennis in New Zealand. He has just earned $US1,209,730 for winning the 2021 Indian Wells tennis event. So, what’s wrong with my headline?

Cameron Norrie does not play for New Zealand. He should. He happily learned to play here until some idiot, employed by the New Zealand Tennis Federation, told him he’d never be any good at tennis. Norrie went off to play for his mother’s home country, the United Kingdom. And so, the UK now has the Indian Wells 2021 champion. Tennis on the other side of the world is reaping the benefit of Norrie’s success. And all because some Federation bureaucrat in New Zealand couldn’t keep his mouth shut on a subject, he clearly knew nothing about.

The unusual feature of this story is that the current Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) CEO, Steve Johns, was the CEO of Tennis New Zealand when Norrie was sent packing. But I am not blaming Johns for the loss. Johns is not responsible for the policies that resulted in the arrogance of New Zealand sport. That destructive feature is down to people like Miskimmin, Castle and in SNZ, Bruce Cotterill. Johns was the poor bugger left to implement their flawed orders.

The same egotistical policy that lost New Zealand Tennis, Norrie, has certainly happened in swimming. When Jane Copland was 15 years old, I sent her to Tasmania and Sydney to swim in World Cup events. New Zealand’s National Coach, Brett Naylor, accosted her in their Sydney hotel. He tore her apart with a tirade that included his view that she would never be any good. She should go back to New Zealand. She was an embarrassment to her country. It was an assault that, in my opinion, should have seen him banned from every pool in the country.

In Germany, a week later, Jane broke the New Zealand Age Group 100IM record. Two years later she was New Zealand Open Champion and double open New Zealand record holder. But she also couldn’t wait to leave a country whose National Coach had called her an embarrassment. She left to swim at university in the United States. She swam in the NCAA finals and won the Central American 200m breaststroke championships for someone else.

After the Sydney assault, at the Open Nationals in Dunedin, Naylor attempted to have a conversation with Jane. Evidentially she was no longer an embarrassment. Before Naylor could speak Jane said, “I think you and I should maintain our distance, Mr. Naylor.” She was as good as her word.

You can read Jane’s version of these events at the following link. ‘Pawns in adult power games’ (

But Jane is not the only victim of SNZ centralised arrogance. History is littered with the remains of swimmers who, hurt and disillusioned, have abandoned the sport. No organisation loses 3045 members since 2002 without a cause.

In the 2021 Annual Report, SNZ told me this.

“And finally, I want to acknowledge the emphasis placed by the Board on Membership Protection. Every club member in our extended swimming whanau must be assured that their safety remains an unequivocal priority and that any form of physical or mental abuse is totally unacceptable. Open channels of communication are available through our Membership Protection Officer, respecting absolute confidentiality and with reassurance that every voice will be heard.”

That is a lie. Otherwise explain to me how else SNZ would describe a senior staff member trapping a lone 15-year-old girl in a Sydney hotel, late at night, and call her an embarrassment to her country, who should leave Australia and go home to New Zealand the next day. The claptrap in the Report might mean something if anything had been done, anything at all, to censure a SNZ bully. And don’t tell me SNZ didn’t know. After Jane’s phone call telling me about the assault on her, I rang SNZ to tell them what had happened. I was told it would be investigated. I would soon hear back. I’m still waiting.

As so often happens with this sort of cruelty, SNZ never spoke to Jane again. The message was clear. Naylor was the victim. Jane was a bitch. She was abused twice, once by Naylor and a second time by the organisation.    

But it is not too late. There is no statute of limitations on this sort of abuse. If “safety remains an unequivocal priority and that any form of physical or mental abuse is totally unacceptable.” And if, “every voice will be heard” for a second time SNZ, you have been told.

Or is the SNZ Annual Report “a tale … full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.” I think the few SNZ members left know full well where the truth lies. If the SNZ Board, if the Report’s author, Dave Gerrard, want to demonstrate the emphasis they place on membership protection – prove it. Because until you do, like me, the members don’t believe you.  

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