Swimming: Regan quits high-performance job

Lauren Boyle
Lauren Boyle
Mark Regan, the coach of our best-performed swimmer last year, has resigned as high-performance coach at Swimming New Zealand.

The coach of short-course world champion Lauren Boyle has been based at the Millennium Institute on Auckland's North Shore for three years but is understood to have been frustrated by his employment situation.

The Herald on Sunday was told his contract was rolled over month-by-month. A source said the attitude of SNZ to Regan had become ''demeaning and the cause of extreme stress'' where he was ''treated like he was the janitor at the Millennium Institute ... no wonder he is so demoralised by the state of swimming's leadership.''

Regan did not return calls on Saturday night. The governing body's acting chief executive officer, Mark O'Connor, confirmed the news.

''He has [resigned]. I can't make a comment on that at the moment because I've got to respect [employment relations] issues around him [Regan].''

Regan has coached Boyle since her return from completing a university degree in the United States in 2010. She is New Zealand's best current swimmer who helped gain the sport's governing body $1.4 million in high-performance funding this year. That came after SNZ was dumped as a targeted Olympic sport on the back of 16 years without an Olympic medal.

Boyle redeemed the sport's reputation with a gold medal in the 800m freestyle and a bronze in the 400m freestyle at the 25m short-course world championships in Turkey last month.

The 25-year-old also led the New Zealand campaign at the London Games with two finals appearances, the only Kiwi to progress that far. She finished fourth in the 800m final and last in the 400m freestyle final. Breaststroker Glenn Snyders - also mentored by Regan - was next best, making the 100m and 200m semifinals.

Boyle is on a Government performance enhancement grant of $47,500 over the coming year. She is believed to be keen to race until at least the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. However, a significant proportion of the $1.4 million was expected to be channelled towards what she wanted to do. Her influence may be less certain now her coach is gone.

News of Regan's decision coincides with tomorrow's arrival of new high-performance director Luis Villanueva from Spain. A call on whether Regan was to be retained as part of the coaching structure had been expected to be one of his first jobs.

O'Connor said the board would make a future coaching decision only after consultation with Villanueva.

''I'm looking forward to working with Luis but I'm not in a position to discuss what we do until I've talked to him,'' he said.

It is understood Regan's swimming squad had been hoping last month's departure of fellow high-performance coach Scott Talbot to the New South Wales Institute of Swimming and Sydney University would free up budget to retain Regan.

By Andrew Alderson, of the Herald on Sunday.