Swimming New Zealand has hired Australian rowing executive Christian Renford as its new Chief Executive, which all-but-completes a total house-cleaning and overhaul for the organization.
The previous leader of the organization resigned in May and was vacant through the Olympic season. Renford comes after previously being the CEO of Rowing New South Wales for the last four years, and Rowing New South Wales for the three prior to that. Rowing is a major sport in this part of the world, with Australia winning 5 medals in the sport at the Olympics. The only countries to match or exceed that total were Great Britain and, of no surprise, New Zealand.
“Our sport has faced issues which were addressed in the whole of sport review, the majority of the recommendations of which have now been implemented,” said Swimming New Zealand Chair Dr Brent Layton. “We have adopted a new constitution, we have buy-in from our regions, and we have in place a new Board, a new Chair and a new High Performance Director. We have now appointed a new Chief Executive from a strong field of nearly forty candidates.”
Renford takes his spot officially in early March, and he will soon discover if one of his best coaches, Mark Regan, will be there when he returns. Earlier this week, Regan informed Swimming New Zealand that he would be leaving his role as the head coach of New Zealand’s high performance athletes.
Now, Danish swimming website SwimNews.dk is reporting that there may be a change of heart. Officials from New Zealand’s cricket and rugby organizations are reportedly mediating conversations between swimming and Regan for him to remain in the country.
Layton continued on the subject of Renford that “we believe swimming is well on the way towards the independent review’s vision for the future of the sport in this country. Christian has displayed strong leadership and a clear focus in terms of organisational direction in his roles, and that is what the Board believe is required.”
There is certainly new leadership and new direction in New Zealand. Will this lead to new successes and new tranquility? We haven’t seen that just yet, but there’s still hope.