How often have we heard that swimming does not have spectator appeal, or
swimmers lamenting the lack of money in the sport?
Swimming, one has to admit, is considered a minor sport until it comes to
the Olympic or Commonwealth Games. Then it is second only to athletics.
Modern technology has played a large part in the demise of the popularity
of swimming. Most people think of it as a cap and goggles bobbing up and
down in water.
Others claim it does not have the same appeal as athletics because swimmers
are in lanes and there is no bunching and jostling. Yes, this is true, but
one could argue you therefore get a true winner and not someone who just
sat in and sprinted into the lead before the tape.
Short course swimming has added a new dimension to the sport. It is perceived
to be quicker and more exciting because of the many more turns. It is a
great way to help lift the profile of swimming. The World Short Course Championships
and World Cup sereis have helped to keep the sport in the public eye. But
without the competitors, this is becoming more and more difficult to do.
The two World Short Course Championships held so far were bereft of many
of the top stars.
Making the best of the opportunity: Costa Rica's Claudia Poll won two golds and set a world record at II World Short Course Championships, later competed in 96 World Cup winning four events and prize money. For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
Although both of these events were not well supported by the leading names
of the sport, those wo competed and won titles have reaped the benefits,
A world title, whether long or short course, or being a World Cup winner
looks impressive on any CV when trying to impress sponsors.
Money is coming into the sport slowly, maybe not as quickly as competitors
would like and certainly nowgere near the rate or amount as in athletics.
But on the other hand, the crowds are not as great nor are swimmers seen
to compete as often.
The World Cup has money on offer, yet the top names have not been hungry
enough to compete. If swimmers want to increase their incomes, then surely
they must be willing to change their outlooks. Since many of the old beliefs
about training and racing, have been eroded over the years perhaps now is
the time for coaches and swimmers to think seriously about maintaining a
high profile all year round, not just at the Olympic Games.
Sponsors, as hard as they are to come by outside the swimwear companies,
want a return for their money. They sponsor to get publicity, and swimmers
not taking part in the media-covered events are not going to give a good
Let's not hear swimmers moaning about lack of money at press conferences
at the Olympic Games when they do not seize the opportunities available,
few that they may be.
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