|When's the A Final? It already happened????|
I don't fault the meet announcer, Sam Kendricks, who does a good job trying to rile up the crowd during each and every race. I actually think the problem has far more to do with the content of the crowd. Think of the upwards of 3000 people I just told you were at the meet. Almost none of them are their because they just like watching a big swim meet. They're there because they swam, or know a person who is swimming. Could they get a little more excited? Of course, but USA Swimming makes very little effort to attract anyone to our premier competitions that is not somehow involved in them.
Even if they did- there would be room for precisely none of those people to attend the meet. I know what a difference such an atmosphere can make because I was in Omaha in 2008. The first men's final had Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte battling stroke for stroke for the world record. The crowd absolutely exploded. Here was a large group of people that were invested in results that had very little personal connection to them.
Of course, its hard to compare because the stakes aren't nearly as high out here in Palo Alto. But there are stakes here- and storylines that deserve to be followed. What if we actually tried to host nationals like it was a big time swim meet? Right now it feels like a lazy money grab for USA Swimming, wherein they attract as many people as possible to say they are at "Nationals", collect all the entry fee/time trial revenue, and then sit back and count the money. What if we invested in actually building excitement around our biggest national meet of the year, promoted it and held it in a venue where spectactors could come and watch?
If there is a consistent theme that cuts across swimmers, coaches and the bureaucrats it is a fear of change. We fear losing what we have so we don't take the risks to get a lot better. A year from now, post London, I think we'll have all the momentum we need again to build something in swimming. I fear we'll waste it again.