They Covenanted with him for Thirty Pieces of Silver

By David

Most observers of swimming in New Zealand will have seen the announcement that the sport’s funding status has been downgraded. Predictably Sport New Zealand decided that the results of New Zealand’s swimmers in London were not sufficient to merit the priority status of the Jan Cameron years. While Cameron was around Miskimmin paid the sport top dollar. Miskimmin gave and Cameron spent a fortune, that’s about $18 million. And in Olympic Games after Olympic Games after Olympic Games Cameron and her funding sugar daddy came home with nothing.

For Miskimmin the failures of swimming must have come with a sense of déjà vu. Miskimmin understands well what it’s like to lose at an Olympic Games. He’s used to it. His personal career includes an underwhelming seventh, out of twelve teams entered, in the 1984 Olympic hockey tournament. Eight years later and he dropped even further to eighth, again out of twelve teams entered. In Barcelona, I’m pretty sure; his team played nine games and lost eight. Even Jan Cameron’s swimming empire would struggle to match that record of mediocrity.

The result of swimming’s downgraded status was a cut in the sport’s funding down to $1.4 million. That’s depressing. Here we were, confident that the Cameron years had been so dire, so totally devoid of success that Miskimmin would cut the sport off, without a penny. The jilted lover would write swimming out of his will. And swimming would be free; no longer social welfare dependant; by circumstance forced to grow up, forced to stand on its own two feet.

Honestly funding of nothing, not a penny, is what swimming needs. Ninety nine percent of the sport never sees a penny of the government’s money anyway. When was the last time your club or a swimmer you know received any of Peter Miskimmin’s largesse? Miskimmin does nothing for the sport of swimming. His money pays for Pelorus House, its population of paper-pushing bureaucrats and a foreign coach on the North Shore of Auckland – and that’s about it. The coaches and athletes who toil away in pools from Invercargill to Kaitaia never see a penny. Miskimmin isn’t interested in that definition of sport.

But Miskimmin obviously needed swimming more than we thought. Certainly he needed swimming more than swimming needed him. And so to keep the sport in line; to keep swimming dependent on him he stumped up with enough money to buy off the Wellington faction – that’s the $1.4 million. Swimming however will pay a huge price for accepting Miskimmin’s cheque.

The sport of swimming will not run itself. Miskimmin and Baumann have bought control. Through the new constitution they imposed on swimming Miskimmin and Baumann will determine and approve everything that happens in this sport. If either of these bureaucrats ever claims that swimming is independent; that they do not influence the sport’s decision making; that swimming people is what the sport of swimming is all about; that they are there simply to provide funding – then they will be lying to you. Peter Miskimmin and Alex Baumann have bought and own the sport of swimming in New Zealand. And this year’s occupancy fee is $1.4 million.

It won’t work of course. They will repeat all the old mistakes. They will return from Rio empty handed. I see Wellington are telling us that Lauren Boyle, Glenn Snyders, Gareth Kean and Matthew Stanley will “lead the way towards finals and medals in Glasgow in 2014 and Rio in 2016.” In the case of Glenn Snyders that prediction may well be right. He is away to train with Dave Salo in Los Angeles. That is a good move. Salo is a good coach and could be just what Glenn Snyders needs. The wisdom of his move could well yield gold in Rio. I am not so confident about the other three. But before explaining why, I must congratulate Boyle on a wonderful result at the World Short Course Championships last week. I believe she made a courageous and wise decision to spend four years being tutored by Terri McKeever at Cal in the United States. Her London and Istanbul results are the product of a fine athlete nurtured in a world class program.

But the Regan, Miskimmin Millennium Institute sure isn’t McKeever’s Cal Berkley. The carnage of lost talent that has characterized the Millennium Institute shows no signs of moderating. Their appalling addiction to the cult of personality smacks of sporting insanity. How do I know? Well, Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” You must remember how Swimming New Zealand consistently used cult of personality superlatives to describe Hannah McLean, Moss Burmester, Dean Kent, Mellissa Ingram and Helen Norfolk. According to Swimming New Zealand the swimming world was about to be rendered speechless by the feats of the Millennium’s finest. The promise of jam tomorrow – Cameron was an expert at that game.

And Swimming New Zealand is still doing it. The names have changed but the script is straight out of the Cameron play book. According to the new Swimming New Zealand Chairman, Dr. Brent Lay;

“The 2013 programme provides for appropriate support to Swimming New Zealand’s world class athletes like Lauren Boyle, Glenn Snyders, Gareth Kean and Matthew Stanley who are expected to lead the way towards finals and medals in Glasgow in 2014 and Rio in 2016.”

And every time we fall for that three card trick. I have said this before. Lauren Boyle, Glenn Snyders, Gareth Kean and Matthew Stanley are being used just as badly as those who went before. In all cases they would be well advised to get out while there is still time for them to prepare in a competent program capable of producing champion athletes.

One of Arthur Lydiard’s most famous quotes on selecting a coach was; “”Just have a look at the athletes he’s trained. If many have become elite you may also. If none have made it, that’s how you’ll end up!” Right now the Miskimmin Regan Millennium folly has won nothing at an Olympic Games. Boyle, Snyders, Kean and Stanley – be concerned. That could well be “how you’ll end up.”