16 Jun 2011

Warning swimming shake-up needed ahead of Games

8:48 pm on 16 June 2011

A shake-up of New Zealand's swimming hierarchy is needed, if the country wants to win medals at the 2012 London Olympics.

SPARC commissioned the independent review into top-tier swimming, partly because of the lack of gold medals at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games last year.

It found a dysfunctional, negative culture of distrust, a lack of confidence in leadership, and the need to immediately hire a head coach.

The review also calls into question the role of Swimming New Zealand's high performance manager Jan Cameron.

The review says the position of General Manager Performance and Pathways makes no direct contribution to preparation and training, and there are not enough swimmers and coaches to justify that position and a head coach.

It calls for more accountability and the high performance programme should better reflect its size and needs.

There are only 24 elite swimmers and the review says resources should be channelled to where they will make the greatest impact at the London Games.

Some swimmers have also criticised the coaching structure - most notably Moss Burmester, who talked of an oppressive environment after he retired.

Centralising resources at Auckland's Millennium Institute under the general manager disadvantages regional swimmers and coaches, the review says.

Swimming New Zealand chairman Murray Coulter says he accepts the recommendations and they will be implemented.

SPARC chief executive Peter Miskimmin says its high performance board is due to meet next week and will consider whether to extend swimming's high performance funding beyond 1 July.

However, Mr Miskimmin says Swimming New Zealand's board is acting decisively so SPARC is likely to agree to further funding.