Friday, December 17, 2010

While the world is watching Dubai...

John Leonard, on behalf of the American Swimming Coaches Association, has laid out a proposal that calls for the end the current structure of FINA to make it a more "athlete centered" organization.  It is old news by now for many of those involved in high level swimming.  In it, Leonard makes some pretty inflammatory accusations about greed, favoritism and the fear of repurcussions for anyone who doesn't just "go along to get along."  I don't blame him for pleading his case so fervently.  We are all furious about the tragedy of Fran Crippen's passing, we all feel there has been severe mismanagement in various instances, and no matter which side of the suit argument you fell on, you can't help but feel that the problem was a lot bigger than just fabric and length due to the flip-flops, rule changes and deadline wacky-ness.  In many ways Coach Leonard is right.  The structure of the organization needs to change.  He has declared war.  Go get 'em John.  I hope enough of the right people are not afraid to jump on board. 

Casey Barrett at has taken a step back and is looking at it from another angle, stating that perhaps we all can tend to contribute to the problem when we get caught up in the spectacle of the kind expensive international competition that comes from the money flowing in the current system; the kind of money that is allowing our world team to be treated like royalty in a state-of-the-art facility.  From his article :
"Which makes things just a bit uneasy... For all of FINA's apparent faults, you can't deny that everyone - every swimmer, every coach, every official - would prefer to attend top competitions that are staged with no expense spared. That's not just FINA being greedy (even if that's the case), it's all of us being greedy. After all, don't the best deserve the best? Would you rather compete for world titles in a shallow pool with chemical air under a low ceiling lined with asbestos? Overstating the point, I know, but hearing the descriptions and seeing the pictures of that Dubai pool makes me jealous more than anything. I wish I'd had a chance to compete in a place like that."

Give both articles a read.  Sound off below.  Do you think that John Leonard is going to be able to rally enough international support?  Do you think that Leonard's accusations are valid?  Do you think that there is value in the current system?  If structure change is forced, would the money really stop flowing?   



  1. greed from many sides is the cause. I agree with JL's point that large sums of money are why we are Dubai this year. Maybe it is why ASCA did a clinic in Dubai as part of there "outreach' effort. Greed in swimming will be the carrot that brings many of the headaches seen in most big money sports. Gold medals have way more value than their weight. With so many coaches and athletes fighting for their piece of the pie it seems it is about to get a lot worse.

  2. I won't comment on John Leonard being the one crusading against greed...

    I think Casey nailed it on the head. It's exactly what we saw with the APA. Swimmers seem to have this disconnect between what allows these grand events to be run, and what allows these top athletes to make big sponsorship paychecks, and what allows these huge swimming-specific facilities to be built, and why Clemson University can't just build their swim team a freaking 50-meter, $5 million pool and save the team from their doom. Money is what allows these things to happen, and it just doesn't appear. Why is it that people in the swimming community think that they should be better than the NBA, NFL, MLB, all of whom are in the prime of their ever existence, all because they started focusing on the $$'s!