The Good Guys Gather

By David

The comments posted on the Melissa Ingram story made interesting reading. I don’t know whether Swimwatch makes a difference or not. I suspect readers comments carry more weight in Wellington than what I say. The author can easily be written off as “he’s always been a trouble maker.” Fitting Tom and Sensible Swimming and Stevie into the same throw away likeness is more difficult; especially when Tom and Sensible Swimming and Stevie so often express views different from those in the main article. Certainly Swimwatch – with a healthy diet of comments – has turned out to be good for swimming.

The sport is going through a period of being badly managed by a Butler, Wrightson, McDonald, Cull and Byrne; five individuals who know nothing about the industry they lead. And it shows. It’s the reason they keep making mistakes like the open water prize money fiasco. People with a deep understanding of elite swimming would not make those errors. The CEO of SPARC, Peter Miskimmin, has backed a bunch of losers. The first rule of good management is to pick good people. Miskimmin has failed that test. In this case he has more than failed. Swimming people on the Swimming New Zealand Board voted four votes to three to get rid of Butler and Wrightson. Miskimmin ordered the vote overturned. Democracy clearly has no standing in his world. At that moment the position of Butler and Wrightson changed. They are no longer Board appointed independent directors. They are servants of Peter Miskimmin, hired to do his bidding. SPARC now has four representatives on the SNZ Board, two observers and two voting members. SPARC runs the sport. All I can hope is that one day Miskimmin is held responsible for the mess he has created. What he did to this Board’s vote is inexcusable dictatorship.

Some readers may have noticed that Swimwatch has been silent on the subject of Auckland Regional Swimming. Normally there would be some comment on an administrative shortcoming. But no, not in the case of Auckland. Why is that, you may wonder? Well, and much to my surprise, Auckland Swimming is bloody well run. I’ve coached here for eighteen months and Auckland is as well run as the best I’ve seen. Brian Palmer does a good job. The Auckland Board do a good job. Sure, I could moan about some small issues, such as holding Championship meets in November. When it’s time to prepare for the summer racing season Auckland puts on two Championships. It is crazy. However all that is insignificant in comparison to the terrific job the rulers of Auckland Swimming do in managing the sport. New Zealand Swimming would be a better place if Peter Miskimmin was appointed grounds man at the National Hockey Stadium in Berhampore and Brian Palmer and the Auckland Board pitched their tents inside Pelorus House for six months.

For example, about two minutes ago I got a text message from Auckland Swimming. There is a swim meet on in Auckland this afternoon. It is one of the Championships I was complaining about earlier in this post. One of our swimmers was disqualified. Unfortunately Coach Kimberly had left the pool just before the disqualification came to light. The Auckland text asked if I was happy for the disqualification to be processed without the required coaching signature. I agreed, but most of all I was left with the thought that here was an organisation that went the extra mile. Florida Gold Coast Swimming do most things very well, but you’d wait a bloody long time to get a disqualification slip out of them in the same circumstances. I happen to know that’s true. At a JO Meet in Coral Springs, Rhi Jeffrey and I once tried in vain to get a slip of any sort. Anyway, Auckland Swimming – thank you.

And now to the subject of this article – The Good Guys Gather. Tomorrow afternoon I have to collect Lara from Manukau. She is arriving on something scarily called, “The Naked Bus.” She’s coming to Auckland to live and swim at West Auckland Aquatics. Her text message this afternoon tells me she’s having trouble packing. I can well imagine that is true. She says her mother has told her to “keep it simple”. Good advice but, I suspect, also very futile.
From Manukau bus station we move on to Auckland Airport to collect Rhi who has been home to Boston for Thanksgiving. In one weekend, a General Election and the return of Rhi; that’s a lot for one small country to handle.
Jess has finished her final year of High School exams; calculus, which she tells me “wasn’t too bad.” I am concerned though. I did hear her talking about a swimmer she met during the recent World Cup meets in Singapore and Beijing. I got the impression this example of all that’s best in swimming came from a nation in the south of Africa.
Nikki returns to New Zealand from a holiday in California. With all that she has been through the break will have done her well.

Abigail has stolen a march on her team mates and has used the final week of her holiday to swim 100 kilometres.
And Bekki, looking tanned and incredibly fit and sporting a new short blonde hair style, that suits her, has arrived back from Boulder, Colorado. She competed in the elite section of the Auckland World Cup triathlon and is now preparing for races later in the New Zealand summer.

The rest of us have enjoyed our final week of holiday. A holiday before what, you may ask? Well, on Monday we begin the build up to the New Zealand Olympic Trials being held in Auckland from 25 March to 30 March 2012. We are aiming to take a team of nine to the trials. It is an important event for West Auckland Aquatics. How successful we are will be determined by what happens in this next eight weeks. We have five swimmers aiming at or close to 100 kilometres a week through the eight weeks. As long as it is swum at a firm pace we should have a good championship. In eight weeks I will let you know how they have done. Get on, that is, through the 100x100s, the 8000 medleys, the 10,000 straight swims, the 6×1000 and 4×1500. On Monday they have 10,000 metres swimming, 30 minutes of heavy weights and 20 minutes running in the morning and 8000 metres swimming in the afternoon. All the stuff that the critics say will see them into early retirement – all the stuff that might just win them a swimming race sometime between the 25 and the 30 March next year.

  • chhill

    The reason the Auckland Age GroupChamps are held in November/early December is because they have been held at that time for many years. Simple enough for you?

  • Hurf Durf

    I would suggest the main reason maybe visitors. Visitors who bring entry fees from all around the country.

    One of those “championship meets” is Auckland Juniors, my question to David is: When is the best time to hold a regional junior championship?

  • Chris

    Yes indeed, your good guys are gathering and it must be good to have them back.

    Just on the scheduling of regional meets. There are several other regions around the country also having their Juniors in the next few weekends. But I think it is more important that a region schedule their Opens Champs in the right part of the season and surely that would mean in proximity to the National Opens in order to make any sense. Any swimmer at senior/national level (even good age-groupers) would be targeting the National Opens in March and therefore on a good periodised plan. Any other meets during the season should be treated as just part of their training, not tapered for and ‘swum through’. But in terms of Juniors and the majority of Age-Groupers, personally, scheduling regional champs according to the school calendar makes a lot of sense. End-of-year, before the holidays, end of exams etc.

    A lot of swimmers do head up to Auckland for their champs, and have done so for many years, mainly for the competition, but also for many it is a rare opportunity to swim long course.

  • Beth Malyon

    In the context of New Zealand, and for Junior swimmers I can’t think of a better time than the end of the school year to hold an end of season juniors meet. The kids can then have a break over Christmas with their families before getting back for the New Year – now open swimmers, that has to be a different story.