Swimming NZ need a convincing argument

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2012
Lauren Boyle
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

SHINING LIGHT: Lauren Boyle, who reached the 400m and 800m freestyle finals, was the lone highlight from the New Zealand swimming team at the London Olympics.

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No-one is saying it but Swimming New Zealand's sales patter for future funding may have to exceed their results at the Olympics.

Although New Zealand's overall performance at the London Games are being heralded a major success, Swimming New Zealand has not shared the joy after failing to secure any medals in a forgettable year in and out of the water.

In the four-year funding cycle ahead of the Olympics, Swimming NZ, which is still trying to piece together its organisation after a damning review led by former New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Chris Moller, received $7,475,796 from Sport New Zealand.

Just how much it receives for the next cycle leading into the Rio de Janerio Games in 2016 will not be known until Sport NZ makes its "investment decisions" in December.

Swimming NZ, like the other Olympic organisations, will have to present its case in November and general manager of operations Mark O'Connor acknowledged the performance of some Kiwi swimmers was underwhelming.

"Some of the team didn't meet our expectations, that would be fair to say," he said.

Yet O'Connor is hopeful Swimming NZ will not apply a tourniquet to its funding streams after the disappointments of London.

"What we have to say to high performance Sport New Zealand is 'this is what we are aiming to do in Rio in 2016'. A number of those swimmers who went to London are Rio swimmers; people like Gareth Kean, Matthew Stanley and Natalie Wiegersma are really good 2016 targets.

"We have to work out what went wrong there [London] as an organisation and as swimmers."

While disappointed with the swim team's results Sport New Zealand high-performance chief executive Alex Baumann emphasised the distribution of future funding would not centre solely around the Olympic results.

"There's no doubt swimming under-performed and in a number of cases they were unable to repeat the times from their trials," Baumann said.

"It [future funding] is not a reward, and I want to make that clear, on Olympic performance."

Funding, however, will continue to be tight. Sports Minister Murray McCully has declared government funding for high-performance sport will be frozen for at least the next two years.

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