How Should Swimmers Be Paid?

 A previous Swimwatch post discussed how Swimming New Zealand could establish reserves from which to pay swimmers a respectable wage. Their current efforts at professionalism are derisory – and even that’s an exaggeration. So having accumulated a fund of $1,781,000, how should it be spent?

Here is what I would do.

I would pay swimmers for achievements in three categories:

  1. World Ranking
  2. Record Breaking
  3. National Open Championships

World Ranking

Swimmers should be paid a monthly salary according to where they are ranked in the world. Any swimmer ranked in the world’s top 200 should receive a payment. The table below shows the seven ranking categories and the amounts that should be paid to swimmers in each category.

It is a sad reflection on the current state of New Zealand swimming that our two best swimmers are ranked in the 11-25 category. No one is in the top ten. Oh, how we need the days of Hurring, Perrott, Simcic, Jeffs, Langrell, Mosse, Kingsman, Loader, Boyle, Snyders and Burmester back again.

The salary should be paid for the performance that earned each swimmer their highest world top 200 ranking. Every swimmer receiving a payment should be required to submit a monthly report that provides a record of:

  1. The distance swum each week in the month
  2. Any relevant time-trials or test sets swum in the month
  3. Any races swum in the month including the time splits and place
  4. Dry land training completed during the month
  5. Any prescription or counter drugs or food supplements taken during the month
  6. A short commentary on the month’s training and how it is progressing

The table below shows the payments that would be made today if this program was in place. The world rankings are based on 2017 performances. I hope I have everybody. Going through 6,800 names looking for ones from New Zealand, it is easy to miss one or two.

Position Payment $ 2017 NZ Swimmers Payment $
First in world 150,000
2-3 125,000
4-10 80,000
11-25 60,000 2 120,000
26-50 40,000 5 200,000
51-100 30,000 6 180,000
101-200 15,000 14 210,000
TOTAL 27 710,000

The next table details the names and performances that earned a world ranking. Some swimmers are ranked in more than one event. Their pay grade should be decided on the position of their highest ranking. Swimmers with more than one ranking are shown at the bottom of the table.

Swimmers Ranked 11-25
16 53.76 Main, Corey 24 1:59.24 Ashby, Bradlee
Swimmers Ranked 26-50
30 3:48.41 Hutchins, Matt 31 25.02 Fa’amausili, Gabrielle 36 26.45 Gasson, Helena
39 16:25.78 Robinson, Emma 49 4:42.19 Rasmussen, Mya
Swimmers Ranked 51-100
56 1:47.55 Stanley, Matthew 56 4:18.78 Clareburt, Lewis 71 22.39 Hunter, Daniel
89 2:12.80 Layton, Julian 93 1:01.21 Gichard, Bobbi 96 22.47 Perry, Sam
Swimmers Ranked 101-200
103 8:41.87 McIntosh, Hayley 103 8:41.87 McIntosh, Hayley
120 2:13.41 Schroder, George 135 55.48 Coetzee, Corneille 147 15:32.00 Mincham, Michael
162 55.69 Main, Bayley 175 1:10.04 Lloyd, Natasha 183 2:00.98 Doyle, Carina
185 17:01.98 King, Monique 187 1:10.16 Smith, Mikayla 192 32.32 Ryan, Bronagh NZL
196 15:36.82 Reid, Zac 197 55.92 Coetzee, Wilrich 198 32.33 Smith, Ciara
Swimmers Already Ranked Above
140 2:12.98 Gasson, Helena 46 2:13.14 Gasson, Helena 100 4:46.66 Gasson, Helena
68 59.18 Gasson, Helena 171 2:00.24 Clareburt, Lewis 176 2:03.06 Clareburt, Lewis
176 3:54.15 Clareburt, Lewis 33 1:58.00 Main, Corey 177 49.72 Main, Corey
114 28.89 Gichard, Bobbi 116 2:12.80 Gichard, Bobbi 61 28.47 Fa’amausili, Gabrielle
147 1:01.79 Fa’amausili, Gabrielle 184 55.89 Fa’amausili, Gabrielle 124 2:00.83 Ashby, Bradlee
167 2:00.19 Ashby, Bradlee 54 4:18.68 Ashby, Bradlee 163 25.94 Main, Bayley
182 26.02 Hunter, Daniel 151 49.62 Hunter, Daniel 96 4:12.61 Robinson, Emma
43 8:34.66 Robinson, Emma 125 49.48 Perry, Sam 103 1:48.53 Hutchins, Matt
139 15:30.68 Hutchins, Matt 35 7:56.14 Hutchins, Matt 76 3:50.85 Stanley, Matthew
193 1:02.16 Schroder, George 193 1:02.16 Schroder, George 171 8:10.14 Mincham, Michael
142 4:14.17 McIntosh, Hayley 133 16:51.72 McIntosh, Hayley 187 2:16.55 Rasmussen, Mya


Swimmers who break world or national open records should receive a “record” bonus. The table below shows the amounts that should be paid and the number of swimmers that would have received a payment in 2017. The fact that only six national open records were broken in 2017 is a sad reflection on the sport in New Zealand today. We need to do better than that. Hopefully a financial incentive will help.

You may have noticed that no payment is recommended for age group records. There are several reasons. A combination of swimmers, coaches, clubs, parents and the Federation are already pushing young swimmers too hard. There is no way a financial incentive should be added to push them even harder. Financial incentives are best kept as a goal for young swimmers to aspire to in the future; as a reward for making it through to the senior ranks. This was a policy strongly promoted by Arthur Lydiard. I agree with him.

Record Payment $ 2017 NZ Swimmers Payment $
World Long Course 10,000
World Short Course 10,000
NZ Open Long Course 5,000 2 10,000
NZ Open Short Course 5,000 4 20,000
TOTAL 6 30,000

The next table shows the names of the swimmers who set new national open records in 2017.

Open Short Course National Records
Helena Gasson Women 100m IM 01:00.61 Daniel Hunter Men 50m Free 21.52
Daniel Hunter Men 100m Free 47.30 Bronagh Ryan Women 100m Breast 1:07.91
Open Long Course National Records
Bradlee Ashby Men 200m IM 01:59.54 2017 Matthew Hutchins Men 800 Free 07:56.93

New Zealand Championship Titles

The third category of payment recommended is a comparatively modest payment for winning or placing in an open New Zealand Championship. The next table shows what each swimmer would be paid and the total cost.

Once again no payment is recommended for age group championships, for reasons that have already been discussed.

Long Course Payment $ 2017 NZ Swimmers Payment $
First Place 1000 34 34,000
Second Place 500 34 17,000
Third Place 250 34 8,500
SUB-TOTAL   102 59,500
Short Course Payment $ 2017 NZ Swimmers Payment $
First Place 1000 35 35,000
Second Place 500 35 17,500
Third Place 250 35 8,750
SUB-TOTAL   105 61,250
TOTAL   207 120,750


Based on the performance of New Zealand swimmers in 2017 the total payments made under the scheme would be as shown in the next table. As you can see only $860,750 of the $1,781,000 “swimmer’s fund” would have been spent. This reflects the poor swimming results achieved in 2017. As the swimmers improve a higher percentage of the fund will be earned. In the meantime the 2017 surplus that has not been spent should be allocated to a “swimmer’s reserve” waiting for the day when New Zealand again has four or five swimmers ranked in the world’s top ten or has a couple of world records and twenty open national records to pay for.

Category 2017 NZ Swimmers Payment $
Top 200 World Ranking 27 710,000
Records 6 30,000
National Open Championships 207 120,750
TOTAL- 240 860,750


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