The cold war is over and gold medals for most nations have lost their political status. Mix that with the way swimming is conducted today and it is summarily no different than horse racing without the gambling. (Would you go to a horse race if you could not bet?)
Though swimming is a lifestyle it's fashion items are not applicable to average lifestyles. Only "resort wear" swimsuits can make an independent label rich and only Speedo is making any serious money from the sport.
Techsuits are no more, open water swims are more dangerous than cage fighting, and if you are a swimmer in Australia, you get more benefits being on welfare than you do working in the pool.
All of this is a crime and it is NOT a sad fact of about the too few resources the governing bodies are given. For instance, the average worker at Coca-Cola makes $58,630 in income. These employees generate $318,345 for the company each year in profit or about 5-times what Coke is paying them. See this link: [Link]
Now compare that ratio to USA Swimming's $30-million-a-year revenue or Swimming Australia's 20-million-dollar-a-year revenue to what their Olympic athletes are getting paid. Theses athletes are probably generating 25-times or more what their respective governing bodies are paying them.
Now, I am sure I am going to hear in the comments section that there are $300,000 "employees" or kids within the USA Swimming stable but note this fact, these children pay their way in mandatory donations and swim meet fees. They are the true sharecroppers in this sport that keeps it alive in the first place.
From the Herald Sun:
That means, for some people, you're 10 times better off getting a job at Swimming Australia than actually swimming for Australia.
These figures are only going to increase the pressure on invisible CEO Neil who somehow secured a five-year contract a month before the Olympics and before the true performance of the executive team was available in the annual report.
It was only this week that Olympic gold medallist Melanie Schlanger bemoaned her lowly $17,000 income for the coming year - and she won three medals in London to be a major success story of the meet.
Another swimmer said he was "better off on [welfare]..."
Then there is Olympic silver medalist, Clement Lefert, for France who helped his country in the 4x200 IM relay, saying that he will give up swimming because he can't make a living from the sport.
"I want to have a job I like, not one I would not have chosen and I am fully aware that swimming will never make me free from want," he said. "I am not Camille Lacourt, Yannick Agnel or Laure Manaudou," he said, referring to the few French swimmers who clinched lucrative advertising contracts after they won world or Olympic titles.
Manaudou, who was the 2004 Olympic 400m freestyle champion but failed to get into a final in London, gets 1.5 million euros ($1.93 million) a year from sponsors, according to daily newspaper Le Parisien. ..."
"... Ah, you hate to see another tired man lay down his hand like he was giving up the holy game of poker. ..." - Leonard Cohen
Both articles bring up that the fact that "few are called but even fewer are chosen" when it comes to making a living out of swimming much like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, or Laure Manadou, have done.
One can read between the lines here an in red, bold-face, type that it suggests that perhaps swimming is just not worth it especially when you look at the governing body salaries an the other possibilities that exist to feed your belly.