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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Don't Cry For Me In Argentina Or Elsewhere

Although SwimSwam reported that funding was recently cut for the American open water swimming program and that American swimmers are angry and frustrated, we are certain that the future for the elite swimmers during the 2016 Olympic quadrennial is increasingly bright and financially rewarding.

While the American swimmers will have to pay for their coaches to join them to FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup races, there are now many more professional races and sponsorship opportunities for them as a result of the sport's growth.

Swimmers like Christine Jennings (shown above with Petar Stoychev) know first-hand about the myriad opportunities that allow her to travel from Brazil to Poland, from the Cayman Islands to South Africa, from Tiburon to Tokyo. Entrepreneurial race directors know that top swimmers bring prestige and media attention to their events and offer all kinds of financial incentives to world-class swimmers that the FINA World Cup races do not.

Swimmers know that the opportunities to compete in world-class races vs. their top competitors actually outnumber the number of weekends that they want to race. And the top race directors, from Bob Placak in the RCP Tiburon Mile and Yutaka Shinozaki of the Japan International Open Water Swimming Association to Frank Flower in the Cayman Islands, Pedro Rego Montiero of Brazi's King and Queen of the Sea and Wayne Riddin of the South Africa's Midmar Mile, know how to get swimmers to their races.

So, although USA Swimming cut its funding for coaches to travel with the national team members, the opportunities abound for top swimmers to race against world-class competition, represent their country in professionally run events, and win even greater prize money than what is currently offered in FINA races. Every month, there are an increasingly number of opportunities for not only American professional marathon swimmers, but all their rivals around the world who they may face at the 2016 Rio Olympics and beyond.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

3 comments:

  1. Thanks, Steve, for the hopeful perspective! I think that too often we 'react' to changes that we don't necessarily agree with and are passionate about - but forget to pause and present our views in a way that will inspire discussion and possibly even re-consideration. Thanks for your commitment to this great sport!
    Shawn Meyer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While any reduction of funding is never welcomed news by athletes or coaches, the opportunities afforded to the best American open water swimmers is significant relative to the rest of the world. In addition to a world-class training facility at altitude in Colorado Springs where the top athletes can train, the USA team is always well taken care of at international events where USA Swimming does make a commitment. Information, technology and assistance are always available to these athletes. Additionally, there are probably a number of American coaches around the world who would make themselves available to assist American swimmers in foreign competitions.

      After the tragedy of Fran Crippen, the global open water swimming community made it a commitment to increase safety for the athletes as much as possible. One result of this was a community decision to endeavor to offer at least one set of eyes for each swimmer in the water. Naturally, these enhanced safety measures cost money but there are many people around the world who continue to donate their time and talents to support the elite and amateur open water swimmers who challenge themselves in the Earth's oceans, lakes, bays and rivers.

      Delete
    2. While I agree with your hopeful perspective I do think that there's room for discussion and hopefully re-consideration of some of the decisions made. I don't think it's reasonable to rely on the improbability that there 'might' be coaches around the world who would make themselves available to assist USA swimmers in foreign competitions. Also, the tragedy of Fran Crippen demands that we not only offer more "eyes" on swimmers but that we enforce safe water temperatures to minimize risks to our athletes.

      Delete

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