Swimming New Zealand was hit with a drastic funding reduction, dropping its annual budget from $1.5 million in 2014 to $900,000 in 2017.
It is speculated that funding was lost due to New Zealand‘s lack luster performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where the team failed to get a finalist or a medalist. In the Games’ lead-up, distance swimmer Lauren Boyle had been touted to become the first New Zealander since Danyon Loader in 1996 to earn an Olympic medal in the sport. Unfortunately, Boyle fell ill and missed the final by one spot in the 800m freestyle.
Swimming New Zealand chairman Bruce Cotterill said there was both surprise and disappointment in response to the funding cuts. “We’re still going through the process to understand the rationale. We felt all our criteria would have been completed if it hadn’t been for Lauren’s unfortunate illness,” said Cotterill in an interview with the New Zealand Herald.
Cotterill went on to say that “this has been the most successful swimming era since the mid-1990s. We won five world championship medals and two junior world championships medals. In the aftermath to London we had eight top-50 athletes, of whom four were seen as Rio targets. Post-Rio we’ve got 16 in the top-50 of whom 12 look capable of going to Tokyo. ”
However, it was not all bad news in the New Zealand swimming community. As a result of the New Zealand Paralympic Team’s success in Rio, that included 6 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze medals in swimming, Paralympics New Zealand received a $550,00 funding boost.
In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Paralympics New Zealand chief executive Fiona Allen said that “it is a huge endorsement for our high performance plan and personnel. To complement this government investment, we will continue to concentrate on public fundraising, grants and commercial partnerships to assist us in covering the remainder of our Games operational costs and to achieve the goals set out within our Towards 2020 organisational strategy, including the growth and development of Para-Sport at a community level.”