We only have two swimmers in our USA Swimming ranks making this kind of money and one of them is about to cash out. When he does, I don't believe there will be another swimmer who will make that sort of capital for a very long time. The world has caught up and we should probably look towards China for the next "Michael Phelps." Population-wise, for every Michael Phelps we have, China potentially has six of them.
Speaking of the greatest swimmer of all time: both Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps may have lofty goals of growing the sport of swimming but I think they could truly could grow the sport if they used their political muscle to elevate the standard of living of those swimmers on our national team. If more than two swimmers made an affluent wage, people would want to start swimming. Tennis and golf are examples.
Flexing political muscle could include demanding collective bargaining rights between swimmers and the USOC or our two superstars and the rest of the national team refuse to swim. Note, the USOC recently received nearly half-a-billion dollars from the International Olympic Committee so they have the money. Bargaining rights would allow for better compensation via USA Swimming as well.
The article gives an inside look as to how swimming is funded as well and it is not very pretty.
From Fortune Magazine:
FORTUNE -- Americans love to swim: 93 million people do so and spend $1.4 billion on suits every year. For professional swimmers, this means both lucrative sponsorship and a deep-pocketed support organization -- USA Swimming raises about $100 million a year, from its nearly 300,000 members' registration fees, taking a share of about a sixth of that money for its own revenue. Much like running, swimming is a sport in which the elites are supported by the hobbyists. The cut from member registration -- about $16 million in 2011 -- keeps the elites afloat.
Read this line in slo-mo: "...Swimming is a sport in which the elites are supported by the hobbyists..." No, Mr. Alex Konrad, swimming is a sport where the elite athletes are supported mostly by 12-to-13-year girls with the better part of their donation NOT going to the elite swimmers we produce.