Swimming New Zealand National Head Coach At Odds With Organization’s Strategy

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By Dave Crampton, Swimming World Contributor. 

Swimming New Zealand’s new head coach Jerry Olszewski is publicly at odds with his federation’s Olympic strategy and his own advertised job description, saying measurements of success are unrealistic and changes need to be made in the sport.

Swimming New Zealand aimed to have one medal and five finalists at Rio this year, but its highest placing was ninth. Just two New Zealand-based swimmers competed at Rio.

The federation’s 2013- 2020 strategy had a key goal of three medals and 10 finalists at the Tokyo Olympics. That was up-dated and downgraded earlier this year to achieve “podium results” at the Olympics in 2020. Olszewski’s job description is to work “towards Swimming New Zealand’s vision and mission as established in the High Performance Strategy 2016- 2020.”

Achievement of these goals attracts increased funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand ( HPSNZ), but Olzewski’s job description states that his contract is subject to the outcome of this year’s review with HPSNZ.

The federation is looking at another possible $100,000 reduction in funding at the review, in part, as it did not achieve its strategic goals and Olszewski believes it is unlikely to achieve its downgraded 2020 goals either.

Olszewski, who took up his role in September, said such measurements need to be realistic, noting, “it seems that the general public in New Zealand only measures success in Olympic sports by the colour of medals.”

Olzsewski believes getting into a final will be hard enough.

“Our aim will be to continue to improve our international ranking and look towards developing finalists at the Olympics,” he said.

However, its selection criteria for pinnacle events indicates that relay teams for Tokyo should be able to reach the top 8.

Olszewski believes that’s unrealistic.

He also proposes a simplified and progressive pathway for swimmers; a clear and challenging international time-based qualifying standard and wants to bring in a change to the timeframes for trials leading to pinnacle meets.

Swimming New Zealand’s 2016 trials were held less than 48 hours after the NCAA college season finished. Some college swimmers qualified at the Canadian trials and this meant that a men’s relay team could not qualify as two of its top swimmers qualified for Rio in Canada, the other two in New Zealand.

Olszewski, with national development coach Gary Hurring, national coaching manager Donna Bouzaid and high performance squad coach Mat Woofe, are also reviewing the competition structure, squad systems and speaking with coaches to establish a more comprehensive, inclusive plan and approach.

New Zealand will not be sending team to the 2017 FINA World Junior champs, rather its youth will focus on the Commonwealth Youth Games.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

5 comments

  1. avatar
    Cm$

    Jerry is being realistic. NZL is not.

    Kudos to Jerry for speaking out

  2. Gail Shankland

    Seems like we aren’t the only country with money woes

  3. Jerry Olszewski

    Just some clarification; I am not at odds with New Zealand, Swimming New Zealand, nor anyone else here in NZ. Many of these “quotes” were taken out of context. We are working hard, as a collective, to move NZ Swimming forward. We will continue to do so in the future.

    • avatar
      SwimMum

      Great to hear Jerry. Do wonder about some of these journalists.

  4. avatar
    Realist

    Well Done to Swimming New Zealand for working so hard in securing Jerry for the future. Great work!