Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Politics as usual: Coaches charging rent for pools they do not own and I question if swimming has entered the dark ages?

This sort of corruption is taking place in pool facilities all over America. This is not an isolated case. If a local swim team or a masters swim club wants to get into a pool, the head coach is the first person they have to see. In most cases the coach will say the following: What will you bring to this facility to make it a better pool? Or the possibility that a coach will suggest something more sinister like: "What will you do for me?"

From FOX 59:

Since 2006, the Fishers YMCA had been paying $6,000 a year to use the Fisher's High School pool. The only problem is the district never received any of those funds nor did they know that the pool was ever being used in the first place.

According to a probable cause affidavit, [Ken] Stopkotte charged the YMCA $500 a month rent for approximately four years. But on at least three occasions that amount was doubled to $1,000 a month.

It is my belief that swimming is not doing very well right now. I am unimpressed with the sex abuse lawsuits, the "poolitics" at the local level, and of course the politics at the governing body level.

We have had a professional swimmer die in a race that never should have been staged. A race staged with a governing body who had little experience to execute the task all the while a USA Swimming/ASCA coach was on site and actually allowed the team to swim in such hazardous conditions.

To their credit FINA and USA Swimming have called for an investigation, but nothing has been investigated so far according to Swimming World on November 22nd 2010:

"As of two days ago, the FINA open water committee has not been charged by FINA to find out what went wrong in Dubai," Shoulberg said.

We are now entering a phase in swimming where swim coaches are being routinely arrested and Swimming World is becoming a quasi police blotter since they have been reporting any convictions made.

USA Swimming has been in a constant state of litigation for almost 3-years now by the victims in their wake. It certainly did not help their case when their policy du jour was seemingly to point fingers at the sex abuse victims in San Jose for not filing "official complaints."

Then we have the retail level: Governing bodies are still playing favorites with suit manufacturers. FINA has even been playing favorites with whose suits they will approve first. Manufacturers such as TYR and blueseventy are flirting with more friendlier sports, namely open water and triathlons, professional swimmers are begging for money to support themselves while execs who profit off their backs make hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars-a-year at the governing bodies.

In 2008, swimming had suddenly become a professional sport and obviously the governing bodies did not like that for USA Swimming, Swimming Australia, and other governing bodies were actually forced to pay swimmers who set world records.

Hence, welcome to the dark ages. Will anyone outside of swimming know who Ryan Lochte is or will his name end up like Matt Biondi's whereas only hard core swimmers remember him?

Kids, there is no money in this sport so take the scholarship and create a real life for yourself outside of all this nonsense. Keep swimming and don't stop but keep it fun.


TedBaker said...

This is hardly the sport's Dark Ages, Tony. There have been crazy results this past year, results speak of otherwordly technique, tremendous dedication and stunning athleticism. Fred's 50 free, Hayden's 100, the Dutch girls this past week at European SC Champs, Camile Lacourt's backstroke, Park's stunning triple at Asian Games and the young Chinese athlete nearly taking down Hackett's 1500.

Worlds in Shanghai will be rockin'. There will be World Records there and London 2012 will be absolutely lights out. Far from a Dark Age, this may be up there with the 2000 Olympic cycle as one the sport's Golden Ages.

Tony Austin said...

Let me clarify, the swims will be epic as will Ryan Lochte - but the attendance will shrink much like it did post Mark Spitz

For instance at the local level the US Masters SPMS SCY championships had 1,000 swimmers attend last year. This year: 519.

In my opinion FINA and the other governing bodies have killed all the momentum we had in 2008.

Only devout swimmers like ourselves will care now.

TedBaker said...

I've seen 10 Olympic cycles. I was a competing athlete through four of them and had a shot at two. (Never made it, though. Proud to say I got enough to know I wasn't that good.)

My point is that there is ALWAYS a downturn in popularity after the mid-point of Olympic cycle. Always. Swimming is a hard sport, one that requires tremendous will, dedication and patience. It takes time - lots of it - and energy to get good at it. People get in 'cos it looks cool, then they find out that is a tough slog and they quit. Happens all the time. Just happens in greater numbers after an Olympics.

And, as to athletes of today struggling to make a living, it is nothing at all to the struggles in the late '80's and early '90's. There is tonnes and tonnes more money in the sport today.