Just read another controversy loaded article on the BBC website, this time about swimmers wanting to earn more money from the sport. Adam Peaty, no doubt one of the best swimmers in the world, wants to cash in and do more competitions, which he undoubtedly can win.
Adam Peaty is one of the flagship swimmers for the UK and admired by very many including Madison, who went to his head coaches swimming camps twice.
Now one of the most important principles that young swimmers learn is not to compare against other swimmers, because individual development is very different.
Comparison in itself can be treacherous. Adam for example compares the status of swimming today with the 70s. That is really not far back, looking in that we still all enjoy religion which was founded over 2000 years ago and nobody is complaining, with the exception of Albert Einstein of course and a few other, rare scientists.
There are very few exceptional swimmers in the world who can make swimming a job, Adam Peaty, Katinka Hosszu, Cate Campbell, to name a few but there are quite a number of swimmers who seem to be able to swim forever and get younger doing it. Yet even Michael Phelps suffered from the constant demands on performance swimmers.
It takes a certain type of person to be able to swim that much.
Now Adam also compares swimming with triathlon, which I don’t think works very well.
Swimming in itself is much more monotone in both body workout and movements, whilst triathlon has much more different activities involved, like cycling and running, both out of the water and exercising different parts of the body in other ways than in the pool.
I think it is dangerous for young people to put the career of swimming as an option because the extreme amount of swimming a swimmer needs to make it in the sport is not suitable for all.
Just to show how it affected Madison who now suffers from OS Acromiale. Swimming itself is beneficial in moderation but performance swimming can have adverse effects on the young person and not everybody is built to withstand those pressures. Though there are medical interventions possible.
Performance swimming can however complement school performance for some pupils.
Also that amount of training required to make it later on in life as professional swimmer, can seriously affect education requirements laid down by the law and being an important stepping stone for young people.
Performance swimmers now are encouraged to train twice a day, starting at 5:30AM then going to school all day and then swim again in the evening with another gym session thrown in.
Adam said he didn’t like school but that should not be seen as a good example to others who may be good in school and can mix long training hours with good academic results. Everybody is different and I think the option of making swimming a spectator sport should be taken with caution.
What makes other sports so successful for money-making is that spectators like to watch them and they are out of the water. Two tennis players are modern gladiators who can delight a large crowd through their visible body action for hours on a court.
Swimming will never be like that, as swimmers are in the water and cannot be seen so good. One has to be realistic here. Swimming is and will also be a fringe sport for connoisseurs.
I think swimmers are getting a raw deal because the amount of training one has to do to get to the top is extreme. It is literally impossible to follow any other career seriously. Yet top swimmers often earn from their sport by either getting sponsorship or by developing sporting brands, getting TV presenting opportunities or use their good name to get a lot of good will in all sorts of industries.
A lot of ex swimmers become swimming coaches, earning an excellent salary and/or also run swim camps.
I think swimmers just have to appreciate that they need to turn their attention to other things in life rather than being a professional swimmer forever and plan ahead for their futures when for the rest of their lives, they will not be able to be performance athletes forever.
I personally support young people becoming swimmers but would not want to add the pressure of this sport becoming a professional spectacle like tennis as the nature of the sport is different.
Adam Peaty probably should take the advice given by Albert Einstein when he said: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”
Of course performance swimming is anything but calm but there is a different between swimming for personal satisfaction and feeling good doing it and swimming for glory and earning money.
I think this is a sad example of a brilliant swimmer who starts to fight the sport’s governing body rather than go with it. I think British Swimming has a duty of care to tis swimmers to help them find a good path in life away from performance swimming and not let swimmers become totally disgruntled.
Madison only ever swam to complement her schooling, which she loves, if however somebody swims because they hate school and miss out on educational opportunities then that opens to way to a lot of problems.