More silly comparisons

Just read this article in a German paper where the advertisements a Formula 1 driver can wear on his suit is compared to the fact that swimmers are not allowed to wear advertisements.

That is really the height of illogical arguments.

Compare the amount of space to advertise on from a F1 driver, who is actually covered in fabric, to that of a male swimmer, who wears a tiny bit of cloth around the loin.

How much advertising can go on such a trunk?

I think the swimming and commercialisation debate needs to find a useful consensus and not wildly speculate on the worst comparisons.

The article in Frankfurter Allgemeine compares a swimmer to an ice dancer. Again a useless comparison as an ice dancer can be seen for a prolonged period of time by a large amount of viewers. I remember having spent hours on a Saturday afternoon to watch the ice dance competitions, but swimming is not on for that amount of time and would not attract the same viewers, just like tennis, football or boxing.

I spend a large amount of time near the London Aquatic Centre, located right next to the West Ham stadium. The thousands of people going past the LAC to a football games, compares to a tiny number of people who come to visit a swimming competition.

There is little commercial viability in sponsoring swimmers as much as footballers.

Swimmers spend the most time, they are on-screen, under water. The only time they are able to carry advertisement on them, would be for most of them on the coat or dressing gown they wear prior to the swim or on their cap.

As even Adam Peaty rightly remarked, swimming doesn’t have such a large viewing audience that would make the advertising very viable for companies to pay large amounts for.

Of course some athletes do get sponsorship from companies, which is largely not visible but then there is little point in making it known other than by the sponsors themselves. There are swimmers who get free cars or other perks, which is not widely known.

Katinka Hosszu is one of the most quoted athletes causing grief to FINA over the inability to make money from performance swimming. Yet Katinka has a very viable company in her country, with a commercial website, has an enormous status and sells her own branded merchandise.

I am not sure about Michael Phelp’s reaction to the debate but he is another great example to show how the swimming can create a successful world-wide brand, that sells swimming equipment.

This sparring with FINA is not helping the sport, a sport that relies largely on voluntary involvement to make it happen in the first place.

How many free volunteers swimmers think they can get if the swimmers all earn money from the swims but the volunteers have to work for free?

 

The THH and HAC partnership

arena1Overall the location has solved a problem for swimmers and it worked out well. All those swimmers who left Bethnal Green Sharks to continue their careers at Hackney Aquatics have made an excellent choice.

Swimmers always just want to get the best training they can and it was a choice of the committed swimmers from Bethnal Green to move to Hackney.

The Advanced Coaching scheme provides training set to national standards and it proved a treat for swimmers who will compete at the Winter Nationals next week.

Madison is sorry to have missed the Arena league competition final but the team did very well. What a rise from bottom league to Premier League in the space of 2 years. The Arena League is a superb competition concept as it allows the whole team, across the ages and squads to come together as a team and seal the club spirit and set the tone for the season.

For many the friendship and team spirit make the choice to become swimmers easy.

 

grateful for what?

I am quite upset that some voices asking for remuneration for swimming are getting louder. I have also heard people complaining of getting exploited for being officials.

Lets just start at the beginning.

First of all we are not in China, in China, children get selected by the state and get forced into some sports in state sponsored schools. For them sports become a professional path, which is pre-determined by the state and the state benefits from the athlete. I do not know how they get rewarded in China.

Here in the UK, we do have a different system and I really do not want that Chinese system, even though some very prominent swimmers now want to force a professionalisation of the sport of swimming. But to make children into professionals they would have to start very young and be forced into the sport whether they want it or not.

Now I thank our democracy that we do have a choice.

Why do people swim? Mostly people start as children because parents decide it would be a good hobby for the child/ren.

Kids love the sport and go to training, get better and faster. It suits the family, the kids are happy, they are off the street and engaged in a healthy sport.

Now, contrary to China, here in the UK, we have to finance our sport ourselves. Yes, a whole industry has developed around it but that is in reaction to demand, because swimmers need equipment, they need pools, they need coaches.

Most of the finance for the sport comes from parents who pay

  • monthly squad membership, ‘
  • yearly club membership
  • equipment like costumes and training aids
  • competition costs
  • travel costs

Parents want the kids to swim and the kids want to swim and the finance of it all is borne by the parents. Parents even become officials so all swimmers have the chance to swim within the same rules and get a level playing field.

Now those who ask to get paid, I want them to ask themselves, why they are in the sport and if they are in the right sport.

Especially those who already get lots of sponsorship (the swimmers) should just shut up and swim or leave the sport, if they don’t like it and choose one that pays a lot, like boxing or tennis for example.

There are only very few swimmers who do not want to do anything else but swim. For those who have both feet on the ground and whose brain still functions (despite all the swimming), they do know that swimming will always only be a secondary activity besides having a day-job.

But some who never even had a day-job and only ever swam, they probably find it hard to accept reality.

I am really fed up with swimmers and officials alike who think the world owes them a special thanks; we are all in it because we like it and that is how we want to spend our time, if we wouldn’t like it we would be doing something else. Officials make their own choices, go to meets, where they want to help and go there as individuals with a license from British Swimming. Officials do not need to be chaperoned all the time, like they probably do it in countries where people generally have less choices.

No official is ever forced to officiate, they can all walk out and bring a competition to a halt, if they prefer. But most do it first because their own children swim and secondly some keep on doing it after their kids stopped because they like the sport.

People who are chosen to represent their country do get funding to cover living expenses and officials also get costs paid for helping but that is just fair.

For swimmers who literally just spend the whole day in the pool or the gym perhaps British Swimming could put those, at least once a week, into some kind of work placement or give them counselling on ‘life after swimming’ so that the swimmers do not suffer from delusions or mental problems.

The perils of volunteer run organisations

All swimming clubs rely on volunteers and the longer I am involved the more hair-raising incidences I come across that question my sanity.

Obviously for all of us the day-job comes first, we do need to earn a wage, to even be able to pay the swimming clubs for the membership.

Yet there are a lot of jobs in swimming clubs that are done purely by volunteers. There is someone who runs the website, someone who organises galas, the competition entries, the results processing, the officials and so on.

Quite often I see that swimming club info on the website is out of date and even clashes with e-mail information sent out. Even though many of us see websites as a blessing, if you can’t up-date yours it can be adding to the confusion.

What can one believe?

I think the most important thing to go by is the

  1. date of the event
  2. start time of the races
  3. start time of warm ups

As long as we know the date and that the event is happening we can always arrive on the day and get our swimmers into the pool. Our coaches will normally be there but in instances were they aren’t swimmers can still take part in the event and a parent will have to step in organising as good as possible.

We had been to plenty of events where no coach came, especially with our previous swimming club.

If you think about it, if somebody has the job of publishing on a club website and then things start happening, like computer breakdown, illness, just to name those, then obviously the websites cannot be up-dated.

keeping calm and getting our swimmers to the venue is obviously the most important issue, everything else will fall into place on the day.

The officials will always arrive early and have their equipment on them, so that the event can go ahead, as long as the organisers have booked the pool and have their technical equipment in place.

One cannot compare running swimming clubs with major blue chip companies. When a large website breaks down it makes front line news on all major publishers but swimming clubs are voluntarily run and can only do the best they can.

A club record

That’s the first time that Madison has achieved a club record. Hackney Aquatics just started publishing them, well, it is a relatively new club, and to my amazement Madison is listed as holding the 50m short course for the 50 backstroke.

Time of 32:55 on 11. March 2018 for 13 year olds.