Archive for December, 2010

Glad Tidings of Great Joy

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

By David

Our last post began with a comment on how peaceful it was over the Christmas period; a time of good will and generosity of spirit. In New Zealand it is a moment when the BBQ, the boat and the beach become more important than exchange rates or produce prices or even qualifying times. But this Christmas an uncomfortable presence haunted that happy image. Perhaps not everyone in New Zealand was kicking-back, unwinding or leaving the cares of 2010 behind. There may be some who were taking advantage of our down time; who saw our distraction as an opportunity; who plotted and planned while we slept off Christmas dinner.

For example, what were Cameron and Byrne doing? In the New Year they have a date with SPARC’s team of investigators. Cameron’s performance is about to be the subject of an inquest; a sporting commission of inquiry. Surely she was not on Takapuna Beach, building sandcastles with her son Scott. There was serious business to attend to. This was not the time to drink Chardonnay or grill steaks. No, the more I thought about it the more certain I became. Planning was going on. A defence was being prepared. An explanation made ready. Surely?

And then I wondered, what form would this take? With the resources of the sport at her disposal theoretically there was no limit to the schemes that could be put into action. I had no idea, but what could they possibly be? What was she doing?

Possibly, she could start by contacting coaches all over New Zealand in an effort to drum up support. Maybe coaches that had been ignored for years would receive serial phone calls from a high performance stalker. Was it imaginable that offers of largesse would begin to bubble around the nation’s pools in a champagne shower of Cameron generosity? Was that feasible? After all, life as a New Zealand celebrity coach is not normal. Adulation is plentiful, feedback biased and filtered and control almost non-existent. Such an existence is not conducive to stability even in the most balanced person. Under threat there was every possibility of an overreaction.

Oh, but surely not in New Zealand. Not even Swimming New Zealand could ignore some of the country’s most successful coaches and then serial call them to conceal relationship problems; just to influence and distort the findings of a SPARC investigation. That would be bad mannered, rude and classless. Nay, it would never happen. My imagination was out of control.

Would Swimming New Zealand seek to influence the SPARC investigation in other ways? Perhaps they could over-hype attendance at an elite national training camp. Was it possible that an offer would go out to pay the travel costs of athletes who agreed to attend? Maybe even international travel would not be a problem. If Cameron wanted to look good; if she was to survive, it was important to create the very best impression. A few dollars on some unbudgeted travel would be a small price to pay. After all, a pool full of happy, smiling “elite” swimmers was just what SNZ and Cameron needed; was just what SPARC’s report should reflect.

I needed to get over myself. This was all getting out of control. No one would go to those lengths. That was as bad as painting the houses for a royal visit. Swimming New Zealand wanted SPARC to see the real organization, natural and untouched. This was not the time for a pantomime. I needed more faith.

Would SPARC be interested in the Open Water National Championship scheduled to take place during their investigation? If they were it would be pretty important for the event to give the “right” impression. Wouldn’t it be perfect for the SPARC investigators to see a dozen of the Millennium Institute’s best swimmers racing across Lake Taupo. From New Delhi to Taupo was just what the SPARC report needed. SPARC’s money was being well spent. Our very best pool swimmers had the common touch. They still swam around in lakes supporting the sport’s grass roots.

But what say the Millennium Institute’s swimmers didn’t want to swim. Was it possible that a spare $400 or $500 appearance money for each swimmer could be found to stimulate their interest? A dozen swimmers was only six grand; a small price to pay.

Now I really was off the rails. Swimming New Zealand paying appearance money to get Millennium Institute athletes to swim in a national championship? That was preposterous. I have met many of New Zealand’s best runners and know of none that would accept money to appear in their home National Championships. And many of them were Olympic medalists. I also know twelve or thirteen US national swimming champions and none of them has ever been paid to attend a national championship. If Phelps goes to Omaha for free, what am I thinking? Swimming New Zealand would never dream of paying athletes to swim in Taupo just so Cameron could look good; just to con the men from SPARC.

These thoughts are certainly unworthy. SPARC is going to see Swimming New Zealand warts and all; as it is, without decoration. Just to be sure though, it might be worthwhile for SPARC to ask if all that they see and hear is normal. Oh dear, there I go again. The pressure of coaching a new club in New Zealand’s biggest city is clearly beginning to tell on me. I need to get back to the BBQ, the boat and the beach. I might even be lucky enough to bump into Cameron and share a steak and a glass of bubbly.

Writer’s Block

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

By David

I suppose Christmas is always a quiet time. There doesn’t seem to be anything major in the swimming world to discuss. I didn’t want to go on again about the stunning stupidity of Project Vanguard or Jan Cameron’s desperate and barren efforts to win any sort of international swimming race. Swimwatch has rightly spent some time discussing these two follies. Swimwatch editor, Jane, tells me it’s perfectly alright to not post anything new. “If there is nothing new to say,” she says, “you shouldn’t say anything.”

However, because it’s the end of 2010 I thought it might be interesting to look back at the Swimwatch readership statistics. In the last six months Swimwatch has focused on two New Zealand swimming issues. Do the readership numbers suggest that has been a popular choice or has the blog’s narrow focus been one giant turn off?

Here is a graph of the changes that have taken place in the Swimwatch readership numbers between 2009 and 2010. On an annual basis this looks like a pretty healthy rate of growth. Hits, the number of pages visitors read, have increased by 56%. Unique visitors have improved by a very similar 55%. Return visitors have increased by a slightly lower but still good 42%. And so we know that readers found something in 2010 more interesting than in 2009. But Swimwatch began 2010 by discussing topics of interest in the United States. It wasn’t until the last four months of 2010 that we turned our attention to Cameron’s television misbehavior or Byrne’s corporate manipulation. We really need to look more closely at the 2010 figures to determine just when the growth in readership occurred.

The table below shows how Swimwatch readership numbers changed during 2010. Even Cameron and Byrne would have to admit that something has attracted more interest. They should be pleased – it must have been them. Between the first quarter of 2010 and the last quarter hits went up by 49%. Unique readers went up by 52%. And return visitors rose by 44%.

So we do know that the Swimwatch position on Cameron and Byrne was of interest. I bet SNZ would love to have had the readership of their website increase by half these amounts. What we don’t know is whether the increased readership was primarily people that supported the Swimwatch position on Cameron and Byrne or was it readers who were really pissed off at our criticism of two outstanding administrators.

Liz Strauss is one of America’s leading tutors in the art of writing a blog. She published a list of ten reasons people read a blog. Here is her list.

  1. It contains ideas, not just information.
  2. It has thoughts, not just ideas.
  3. It is based on experience.
  4. It does no instruct by force.
  5. It is interesting.
  6. It makes me feel welcome
  7. It does not apologize for its opinions.
  8. It is easy to comment.
  9. It is unique.
  10. It does not try to be someone else.

All these are pretty positive features. I have no idea how many of them Swimwatch observe or how many we contravene. It is probably fair however to conclude that Swimwatch must have satisfied at least some of her rules. Fortunately no one is forced to turn on their computer. Perhaps the discussion of Cameron and Byrne’s job performance has struck a popular nerve. Perhaps the “ideas” and “thoughts” and “experiences” expressed here have been “interesting” and “unique”. Here at Swimwatch we do hope these are the reasons for the increase in the readership of this blog. You see, we really do believe that the chances of some very good people about to swim in London in 2012 and the future health of this sport are in the balance. We also hope that the 50% increase in Swimwatch readers will help tip that balance away from the status quo.

When is Spin a Lie?

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

By David

The last thing I wanted to see on Swimwatch was another article on the SPARC review of SNZ’s management and performance. I thought we had covered the subject to death. However when SNZ publish the sort of rubbish that went up on their website this morning someone has to say something. Their press release is simply scandalous. The people involved can criticize Swimwatch all they like, but when it comes to misleading distortion, SNZ is in a league of its own. SPARC’s independent review needs to double check everything they are told from that source. Here is what I mean.

QUOTE: Swimming New Zealand is pleased with the funding support announced 17 December by SPARC.

Does anyone believe that? Overall government funding goes up by 12%. Athletics gets a 16% boost to $1.8m. Cycling gets 14% more to $4.1m and rowing gets 23% more to $4.3m. Even triathlon, with only two Olympic gold medals on offer, gets $1.5m. And Mike Byrne tells us he’s pleased with no increase and $1.6m. One quality that is essential in sport is performance honesty. If things are not going right, face that reality, examine the reasons and set about taking corrective measures. I had to do that when Toni Jeffs swam badly at the Barcelona Games. I had made mistakes in her training that needed to be corrected.

But that’s not the way SNZ do things. Instead they try and sell the idea that no increase, a grant of $1.6m and an independent review is a pleasing result. When swimming deserves only 40% of cycling’s grant, there is nothing to be pleased about. It is a really awful result and if Mike Byrne is pleased he shouldn’t be and if he’s not pleased, he’s just lied to us. When is spin a lie?

QUOTE: “Our coaches and swimmers showed that they are on the right track for London with their performances at Delhi where we won six medals to match what we achieved in Melbourne.”

Mike Burn is right. In New Delhi and in Melbourne swimmers won six medals. There are, however, two problems. In Melbourne New Zealand actually won a championship, something that did not happen in New Delhi. In four previous Commonwealth Games the swim team returned with two gold medals. Seen in that light are we really on the right track for London? New Delhi was a poor result. In a list of ten previous Games the New Delhi result ranked seventh. Again Byrne appears to be incapable of facing up to the problem. Mushroom management perhaps but when is spin a lie?

QUOTE: “Swimming is one of the most international of all sports with more than 200 nations competing at the likes of the Olympics.”

This nonsense is simply not true. I do hope it is a mistake and not Byrne’s effort to mislead swimming people and the national funding agency. At the last five Olympic Games swimming attracted entries from 163, 152, 150, 117 and 92 countries. Never, ever have “more than 200 nations” taken part in swimming at the Olympic Games. As you can see the number of participating nations is miles short of that exaggerated figure. In fact there are only 196 national federations affiliated to FINA. On this evidence alone SNZ rank and file members and SPARC need to be very cautious about the information they get from Pelorus Trust House.

Byrne’s claim that swimming is “one of the most international of all sports” is only partially true. The number of nations affiliated to swimming is far from unique. There are 196 national swimming federations affiliated to FINA. But athletics has 212, boxing has 195, soccer has 208, hockey has 127, cycling has 175, basketball has 214, shooting has 154, weightlifting 187 and tennis 205. The implication that swimming is especially difficult because of its size is misleading to the point of not being true. It was just as difficult for Nick Willis to get his 1500 meter track medal in Beijing as it was to win any swimming race. I do hope SPARC are not misled by all this bias. When is spin a lie?

QUOTE: “Our challenge is that we will always be unable to match the funding levels of the likes of swimming superpowers USA, Australia, Japan and many European nations.”

Don’t you just love these guys? They are really pleased with what SPARC has provided but now it’s not enough. When he was alive I stayed in Lydiard’s home on more than 50 occasions. I spoke to him on the phone almost every day for five years. Not once did I ever hear him say, “I need more money to win an Olympic gold medal.” That comment is the catch-cry of the depressed and defeated. I know Olympic swimming champions in the USA who came from the most humble of circumstances. Sure, their gold medal changed all that, but prior to their win they were worse off than most of New Zealand’s top swimmers. Next month an American Olympic champion is coming to train at our club in Auckland. The independent review should interview her about the reality of funding swimmers in the USA. In the US you don’t get until you really deliver. I would caution SPARC; if you hear the claim of not enough money, it’s not true. It’s the way swimming spends it that’s causing the problems. When is spin a lie?

QUOTE: Mr Byrne said he is pleased that SPARC is to help Swimming New Zealand undertake a review of the high performance programme. “Swimming New Zealand is committed to continual improvement and the opportunity to work with SPARC to identify ways we can help our swimmers get better results is welcomed.”

The balance of the report is flannel; Mike Byrne trying to make the best of a bad deal. If SPARC thought the people running swimming were above reproach there would be no need for a review. A review is not a case of special attention being offered to a successful sport. A review is called for when SPARC hears that a sport may have serious problems. This press release tells us a lot about the organization. It confirms problems do exist. A swimmer I coached in Florida has been following the Project Vanguard and other SNZ stories on Swimwatch. He sent me a text this morning. It read, “Did you read SNZ’s press release on their web-site? It is enough to gag a maggot!” When is spin a lie?

Swimming New Zealand – An Independent Review

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

By David

Here at Swimwatch we are delighted with the SPARC report in today’s New Zealand Herald. It’s been some time coming but at last the deception that is Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance Program is coming under scrutiny. In case you missed the Herald report this is what it had to say.

SPARC has made its investment in troubled sports swimming and canoeing subject to conditions while “issues” are resolved. It will invest just $825,000 in swimming for the first six months of next year, with funding beyond that contingent on recommendations of an independent review. The review, to be completed by May, will cover coaching, leadership and the focus of Swimming New Zealand’s (SNZ) high performance programme. Toomey said the initial funding means swimmers can keep training and competing while issues within the sport are addressed. A maximum total of $1.625 million has been earmarked for the sport – the same as it received this year.

Of course we are pleased. For seven years we have regularly reported on “issues” that surrounded Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance program; issues that would prevent the nation’s best swimmers winning Olympic medals. Three barren Olympic Games have proven that prediction correct. Issues, that would eventually be identified by the main stream media and main stream sport’s administrators. At last that day may have arrived.

I do hope the independent review does not restrict its consultation to Jan Cameron, Mike Byrne and the Swimming New Zealand Board. Cameron and Byrne have led the sport into this mess and have so brilliantly spun their failings that the facts of their failure have been ignored or overlooked. Swimwatch may have long been branded as a “strident” (Mike Byrne’s word) provocateur. Perhaps, at last, our deeply and sincerely held concerns are about to be vindicated.

This Swimwatch article will not rerun the “issues” the independent review should scrutinize. However, to the extensive discussion that has occupied in previous Swimwatch posts, we suggest the review should look at the relationship that exists between the parents of Millennium swimmers and SNZ staff. Has it always been appropriate? Have New Zealand’s best swimmers always been granted access to the Institute’s facilities? Has personality and prejudice played too big a role in the selection and coaching of New Zealand’s best swimmers?

No, instead of addressing these “issues” we would like to proffer our wish list of seven outcomes.

RECOMMENDATION ONE: It is time for Cameron to leave the program. Jan Cameron has done her dash; served her time; had her chance. Whatever expression you choose it is time for someone else to lead New Zealand’s best swimmers in international competition. It’s not as though she hasn’t had the swimmers capable of winning Olympic Championships. For three Olympics she’s had access to the best we’ve got; about eight of them capable of winning an Olympic medal. Over the same number of Games Lydiard coached ten finalists and won six medals; so it can be done. Just not by Jan Cameron. I would imagine there may be some who fear that New Zealand may not be able to find a suitable replacement. SPARC should approach the world’s best coach who happens to be unemployed at the moment. His name is Mark Schubert and he’s been the personal coach of 22 Olympic Gold Medal winners. He would not have New Zealand return from the London Olympic Games empty handed. The disrespect shown by Cameron towards her swimmers and her sport by accepting a broadcasting position in New Delhi is unforgivable. Our first recommendation is that Jan Cameron be asked to leave.

RECOMMENDATION TWO: It is time Byrne was replaced. The failures of the High Performance Program, the waste of time and money on Project Vanguard, the decline in participation have all occurred on Byrne’s watch. It is a mess and the buck stops at the top table. Byrne should go. I don’t have a suggestion for a replacement except to say the person obviously has to have successful management experience and academic training. He or she must also know swimming at the coal face. They should have been a top swimmer themselves or have been closely associated with world class swimmers. There is no time for learning on the job. Current management shortcomings need to be filled immediately.

RECOMMENDATION THREE: Project Vanguard is a distraction and should be dropped. There are more important things to be accomplished. The whole thing is an exercise in fiddling while Rome Byrnes. Swimwatch has published thousands of words on the futility of Project Vanguard. It is an exercise devised by weak people, for weak people. It has nothing to do with improving the sport of swimming. It’s all about making poor managers feel important. It’s been a mistake. Drop it now before it causes real harm.

RECOMMENDATION FOUR: Swimmers should have access to full funding while still swimming at their home programs. There is no need to spirit swimmers away to the Millennium Institute. If a program is approved by the new High Performance Director, swimmers should be able to stay at home with access to all the funds and privileges enjoyed by Millennium swimmers.

RECOMMENDATION FIVE: SNZ should focus on its core activity; competitive swimming. Poor management has spread the organization way too thin. It’s time for SNZ to concentrate on their knitting. For example, SNZ is up to its eye balls just now in learn to swim and water safety; competing with organizations far better qualified to spread that message. I went to a meeting several weeks ago where a SNZ employee gave a detailed report on how SNZ was going to improve water safety. Ten minutes later Water Safety New Zealand and Water Safety Auckland told us of their very different plans. That sort of division is no good for anyone. SNZ should get their noses out of other people’s business. I would think that a spin-off benefit of refocusing SNZ would be a staff reduction from 22 to less than 10.

RECOMMENDATION SIX: The High Performance Center should be restructured into just another swim club that earns money from swim fees and pays for pool hire like all the rest of us. Oh, and it should not be part of the North Shore Swimming Club. Just as Gary Hurring has a club in Wellington that has Keane as a member and Jeremy Duncan has a club in Invercargill with Wiegersma as a member, Regan should have his HPC Club, no more and no less than all the rest of us.

RECOMENDATION SEVEN: New Zealand coaches should receive far better coaching and day to day support. The real lie in the High Performance Program, as it is practiced by Cameron and Byrne, is that the best coaching in the world can only be found at the Millennium Institute. That is not true. Simcic broke a world record from Christchurch. Loader won two Olympic gold medals from Dunedin. Jeffs and Perrott came from Whakatane and Wellington. Cameron and Byrne have a Millennium obsession. They have to; the organization they have created depends on Millennium results. And it’s been catastrophic. Lydiard was adamant – the prime responsibility of a High Performance Program is to improve the standard of coaching throughout the country. No one knows where the next Olympic Champion is going to be born. Jack Lovelock came from Reefton. Murray Halberg was born in Eketahuna and Peter Snell came from Opunake. Swimming would do well to always remember that legacy of New Zealand sport.

So there they are; seven recommendations. They are neither strident nor absurd. They are considered and are most certainly valid alternatives to the policies of Cameron and Byrne. Their efforts have seen participation numbers collapse and performance medals disappear. Our alternative recomendations will certainly do better than that.

Vanguard Version XXX

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

By David

“Oh! What a tangled web we weave. When first we practice to deceive!” Swimming New Zealand should know. A week ago SNZ met the Waikato clubs in an effort to spin the tangled web that is Project Vanguard. Swimwatch were lucky to have a personal contact at the meeting. A close relative of my wife, Alison, happens to be involved with swimming in the Waikato and was at the meeting. I asked for her opinion of what went on. The balance of this post is based on her impressions.

However before discussing the Waikato meeting, we need to address an interesting curiosity of the Vanguard sessions. Why does Mike Byrne, the CEO of SNZ, never come anywhere near Auckland? He was in Waikato and half a dozen other Regional meetings but when the road show came to New Zealand’s largest population center and home of SNZ’s high performance Millennium Institute he was nowhere to be seen; the curtains drawn, he was locked securely in his Pelorus Trust office.

Do you think he’s scared? The appearance of ignoring Auckland is certainly not healthy. It is also at variance with the sermon of open communication being preached at Vanguard services. If Byrne is incapable of communicating with Auckland why should we believe he will be a paragon of disclosure dealing with 180 New Zealand clubs? But, you may say, communicating with New Zealand’s clubs is different. No New Zealand club is anywhere near as powerful as the whole of Auckland. That’s exactly right; which makes any and every club in New Zealand that asks Byrne an uncomfortable question so much easier to ignore, just as he currently scorns Auckland. If Byrne thinks it’s acceptable to disdain the Auckland Region, brushing aside a troublesome club will be of no concern. The problem with communication in Swimming New Zealand is not structural – it’s personal. And no constitutional change is going to fix that.

But back to the Waikato meeting. In her various presentations Cathy Hemsworth has managed to blame just about every imaginable sin on the current structure of Swimming New Zealand; if it’s gone wrong, the current constitution did it. Sponsorship problems, a gold medal drought and poor communication have all been blamed on vexatious Regions. In Waikato Hemsworth landed the current constitution with responsibility for diminishing participation. She told the meeting that, membership numbers of SNZ in 1991 were 22,000 versus 14,500 in 2010. She then went on to explain that, SNZ was looking at the Gymsports model. Gymnastics in New Zealand now has a Professional Services Delivery Structure. Their sport reinvented itself to broaden its base and now has 80,000 competitive members and 180,000 members in total.

The duplicity in all this is stunning. SNZ had a regional structure when its membership was well in excess of 20,000. Perhaps independent Regions should get credit for those good numbers rather than be blamed for the current decline. There is certainly no evidence that the Regions have had any responsibility for the decline to 14,500. Far more important was the Byrne promoted initiative to banish learn to swim participants from SNZ membership. If, like gymnastics, every young person learning the sport was counted as a member, swimming would have a membership way in excess of 180,000. That has nothing to do with constitutional structure. That’s a policy landed on us by Byrne and his Swimming New Zealand Board. Oh, and by the way, the Gymsports figure includes both rhythmic and artistic gymnastics, whereas Hemsworth’s swimming example does not include this sport’s other disciplines. Finally, Hemsworth would do well to address in more depth factors like the absence of swimming role models. Has the fact, that in twelve years and with 10 million dollars of our money Byrne and Cameron have been unable to produce an Olympic medalist, had anything to do with the sport’s declining membership? The last time a New Zealander won an Olympic medal most of the swimmers in my club weren’t even born. In Waikato Hemsworth partially acknowledged the importance of role models when she said swimming needs the medals earned by HP swimmers. She should do some research. I think she will find New Zealand has not won any Olympic medals in the ludicrously titled High Performance era. As we have said before, Byrne and Cameron should look closely at how well they do their job before they try to change ours.

Hemsworth seems incapable of holding one of these meeting without dropping the SPARC threat. In Hamilton she explained the reason for change was the SPARC requirement for modernization otherwise SPARC money may be at risk to the organization. This concern also applied to commercial partnerships.

Now, I have been to two meetings recently where the CEO of SPARC, Peter Miskimmin, was asked whether SPARC had any preference for a SNZ organizational structure and was SPARC pushing a specific option. His answer on both occasions was a firm and clear – no, that decision is for the membership of Swimming New Zealand alone. It seems that either Miskimmin is a real devious bugger or Hemsworth is gilding the truth to the point of deception – and I don’t think Miskimmin is devious at all. Put it this way, if Hemsworth is so certain that the funding of swimming is at risk unless the Constitution is changed, I challenge her to produce a letter signed by Miskimmin that says, “Change your Constitution to the Professional Services Delivery Model or we may stop your funding.” Oh, and while she’s at it, I would like to see a similar letter from State Insurance that says, “Change your Constitution to the Professional Services Delivery Model or we may stop your sponsorship.” Until she can put those two letters on the table she should drop the threats. You see Cathy, without the letters we don’t believe you.

The most brilliant question at the Waikato meeting came from the floor. My wife’s relative tells me someone asked, “Why can’t Mike Byrne run swimming?” Don’t you just love the courage of some swimming people? Unfortunately the answer did not exhibit the same sagacity. Byrne evidentially said something like, “Because we have autonomous Regional Associations.” You must to be joking! Is the CEO of Swimming New Zealand really saying that unless he is in total control, unless he makes all the decisions he can’t run the sport? Obama seems to be able to run 50 autonomous American States successfully but Byrne can’t run 16 autonomous swimming regions. It is probably a most telling insight into the character of this individual. With that admission it could be time for him to go somewhere where his form of mini dictatorship is appreciated.

But there was worse to come. Byrne offered an example of regional rebellion. He said that a Region could choose to have a sponsor which is in direct competition to a SNZ sponsor, for example the Absolute Insurance and State Insurance conflict. He was referring to the Absolute Insurance sponsorship of the prize money paid to the winning teams at the Auckland League competition and the State Insurance learn to swim sponsorship. Once again, I do not believe either company care in the slightest that there are two insurance companies involved with New Zealand swimming. If they do Byrne should table letters expressing that concern. Until then it’s great that this sport is big enough to have two fine insurance organizations providing their support. I’m told that Don Stanley, a Life Member of Swimming New Zealand wisely said to Byrne, “You will have to first show me that either sponsorship is at risk.” The wisdom of that comment should be echoed by every person involved in the sport of swimming.

Finally, there are some who may consider the views expressed in Swimwatch to be extreme. I’ve even heard Mike Byrne unfairly described Swimwatch as strident. However the Waikato meeting demonstrated an interesting trend. I’m told the meeting included a Swimming New Zealand life member and a dozen Regional volunteers. Most would never read Swimwatch and those that did, would disagree with most of what we have to say. But not when it comes to Project Vanguard – main stream New Zealand is equally concerned at Swimming New Zealand’s manipulation of the truth. When the main stream and the radical fringe start singing from the same page Swimming New Zealand has a problem.

Project Vanguard requires Swimming New Zealand call for a vote of the Regions to approve moving to the next stage. The vote has to be taken early in the New Year. The Regions need to make sure the vote is held. I wouldn’t put it past those involved to ignore the instruction of the Annual Meeting and attempt to move on without getting the approval of the Regions. Evading a vote would be unconstitutional. If it happened the Swimming New Zealand’s Board would be spending money without approval. And that’s illegal. Don’t bet that will prevent them trying it on. When there is a vote, the Regions must talk to each other and kill off Project Vanguard before it causes real damage and costs us all another $100,000.