2018 – What Will We Remember?

Let’s begin this Christmas post by discussing the performance of Swimwatch during 2018. The blog published 60 articles (this is number 61) and was read by 62,273 unique visitors. That compares with 28,000 in 2017 and 16,000 in 2016. To be fair those two years were affected by my coaching contract in Saudi Arabia. This year’s total is well short of the 2011 record year when the blog was read by 124,000 visitors. That was the year Peter Miskimmin conned Brian Palmer and Bronwen Radford and orchestrated a fatal coup of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ). Interest in the devious political intrigue at the time was high.

Not that the popularity of Swimwatch did much good. Miskimmin won, the constitution was changed, democracy in swimming died and the sport began a steady and inevitable slide into oblivion. Eight years later and every measure of performance has collapsed. Membership numbers are down. Income is down. International results are down. The only measure to go up is staff turnover. SNZ demanded that New Zealand’s best swimmers transfer to the national training programme and provided them with eight national coaches in eight years. The negligence involved in forcing swimmers like Lauren Boyle, Mathew Stanley and Mellissa Ingram to accept a coach a year was stunning. But did SNZ care? Did they even apologise? Did they acknowledge their role in destroying a generation of New Zealand talent? No, of course they didn’t.

Instead SNZ roll on convinced of their divine right to rule; certain that the sport is there to make a generous living for them. The 2018 New Zealand team sent to the World SC Championships is a classic example of the depths to which Cotterill, Johns and Francis will descend. While the swimmers were each invoiced $5,300, Francis and his fellow bureaucrats made the journey on the sport’s dime. The blind greed, the savage exploitation of that decision should never be forgotten; must never be forgiven.

No wonder the world’s best swimmers stood up to FINA in 2018 and demanded reform. When SNZ and FINA treat swimmers like slaves they forfeit the right to rule. The new ISL rebel organisation does not operate in a vacuum. In 2018 ISL found a receptive audience because of the naked greed of administrators like Cotterill, Johns and Francis.

But don’t expect those three to change their ways. These leopards are not about to change their spots. They are batting on a good wicket and that’s where they intend to stay. A couple of Swimwatch posts ago I included a quote from the Cuban freedom fighter, Che Guevara. He said, “The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” That is exactly what is needed in FINA and SNZ. The apples have to be made to fall. 2018 has shown us that FINA and SNZ are not about to accept reform. Making life better for swimmers and swimming is not on their agenda. Eventually the swimming communities worldwide and in New Zealand are going to realise that truth and are going to turf bureaucrats like Coterill, Johns and Francis into the garbage can of swimming history. World class swimmers are moving in that direction using the American courts. New Zealand will follow. It is a legal case we intend to pursue in New Zealand in 2019. The rebellion that began in 2018 cannot have its conclusion come soon enough. I suspect the New Zealand High Court will be adept at picking apples.

In almost everything SNZ do, you can find deceit; some of it mild, some of it deadly serious. Take this week’s announcement of the entry numbers for the New Zealand open-water championships. Here is how the SNZ website trumpeted that news.

The largest number of athletes ever to enter the NZ Open Water Championships will gather in Taupo across EPIC WEEKEND to compete for national honours.

That is true. However it is also a lie. You see the extra numbers are the result of adding three new events. In previous years there were two open-water championship events. This year there are five championship events. The news report is simply not comparing like with like. Swimmers have been stolen from the EPIC program to earn more money for SNZ – hardly the way to treat a loyal sponsor.

The reality is that in the main 10k event 36 swimmers have entered the 2019 race. That is exactly the same number as entered the same race in 2016. The SNZ headline is a classic con. Double check everything. Don’t believe a word they say.

I object to the SNZ decision to steal swimmers from the EPIC races in order to earn more money for themselves. In my view it is a disgusting way to treat a loyal sponsor. But worse than that is what is going to happen to the additional income. Experience has taught us that it will all go to improving the lives of Cotterill, Johns and Francis. Daniel Hunter, Simon Perry and Emma Godwin are not going to benefit by one cent from the money SNZ is taking from the EPIC organisation. SNZ steal from everyone to benefit themselves. Anyone who believes for a minute that Cotterill, Johns and Francis have a shred of love for swimming and its members, in my view is sadly blind to the reality of the sport. And that is the lesson of 2018.

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