Mightest Still The Enemy

I was in Hamilton this weekend at the Central North Island Swimming Championships. During the meet I was reminded of the title of this Swimwatch story. It is a quote from the Book of Psalm, chapter eight, verse two. The full King James version says, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”

The event that prompted this thought occurred when two young ladies from the Sundevils Swim Club in Hastings asked me if I could autograph their t-shirts and have my photograph taken with them. This was a most unusual invitation. However, I agreed but did ask what had prompted their request. “Well,” they said, “We’ve been told you are famous because you write a blog called Swimwatch. You tell Swimming New Zealand everything it does wrong.” They assured me that my reputation, as the author of Swimwatch, met with their full approval. When they got back to Hawkes Bay Swimwatch was going to be high on their list of required reading.

Well you Sundevils, I have no doubt you were dared into this adventure. But you did it very well; with good manners and in the best of taste. If you are reading this story, the author of Swimwatch enjoyed the moment. Because, what you did and said is an inspiration. Swimwatch is about you. Two young women spoke words that should provide us with the strength to carry on; to “still the enemy”. The Coalition of Regions fought and lost a battle recently. But that must not be the end. The war must go on. Thank you Sundevils. Thank you because, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”

To help the girls from Sundevils understand Swimwatch better it may be useful to explain what it is about Peter Miskimmin, Sport New Zealand, Dr Who and his traveling companions in the tardis called Pelorus House that prompted me and two of my friends to start the Swimwatch blog. I guess it boils down to greed. In New Zealand sport we detected an avarice for power, status and wealth that has nothing to do with the two Sundevil swimmers; that abandons them and their toil. The world that Miskimmin and Dr Who inhabit has no time for my Sundevil friends. You don’t believe me. Then look at the facts.

Last year Peter Miskimmun, Dr Who and their Pelorus House companions got their hands on $4.35 million dollars. Of that $2.82 million came from the taxpayer, $0.92 million came from the members, $0.04 million was earned in interest and $0.57 million came from sponsorship.

Last year Peter Miskimmun, Dr Who and their Pelorus House companions spent $4.46 million dollars on swimming. Of this Dr Who and the crew of Pelorus House cost us $1.06 million, the Millennium Institute’s pampered few cost us $2.16 million, learn to swim education cost $0.77 million and various championships cost $0.47 million.

In other words, of the $4.46 million dollars spent on swimming, $3.22 million went to keep Pelorus House and the Millennium Institute afloat. The rest of the organization received $1.24 million that it spent on learn to swim and championship events.

Swimming New Zealand has 22,061 members. I’m told Pelorus House has about 25 staff. The Millennium Institute is home to about 21 swimmers and staff. In simple terms those membership figures mean that 0.2% of Swimming New Zealand’s members get 72% of the organization’s money. The other 99.8% of us have to share 28% of the money. And remember 86% of the money came from us either as tax money or membership fees. Swimming New Zealand is an organization that cost its 22,061 members, in tax and fees, $4.46 million to care for and pamper 46 (0.2%) of its people.

And what did we get from Dr Who and Peter Miskimmin for all this money. Not a damn thing – that’s what; certainly no medals at the London Olympic Games. Worse than that, not a phone call to ask how things were going, not a visit to check on progress – nothing. You don’t believe me? Well, give your club secretary or treasurer a call. Ask them the last time they got a cheque from Swimming New Zealand to help with lane hire or coaching costs. Ask your coach when he or she last had a visit from one of the privileged 46. The only thing Swimming New Zealand do for the grass roots is to strip us of every cent. We gave the organization $3.22 million and we got nothing in return.

Peter Miskimmin is quick to threaten the withdrawal of funding. We have shown that for 99.8% of our sport Peter Miskimmin’s money and Dr Who’s presence makes no difference at all. Take your bloody money and go. All but 46 of us would be better off without you. You and your money are nothing but trouble.

If the two Sundevil swimmers I met at the weekend are to have a chance to progress their swimming careers swimming cannot sustain this top heavy, haves and have-nots organization. The way Cameron organized swimming involved too much waste. Peter Miskimmin and Dr Who know no better. The waste of talent has been and still is criminal. Thomas Gray described why Swimwatch exists when he referred to my two Sundevil friends thus:

Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast

The little tyrant of his fields withstood;

Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,

Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.

There is a better way; a way that has been described many times in the pages of Swimwatch; a way that was trialled and approved in the United States and in France and by a New Zealander called Arthur Lydiard when he managed the coaching of track and field athletics in Finland. I want to see a more democratic, even handed Swimming New Zealand. I want to see an organization where more people get a chance; where the Sundevil girls are provided with Swimming New Zealand support to pursue their dream.

But that’s not the way things work in the Miskimmin, and Dr Who world. They have an elitist view of sport that is as wrong as it is a failure. Swimwatch will continue until that point is understood. You see, there are two swimmers in Hastings who deserve no less.