Coaches & Swimmers Set To Go Pro On Their Challenge To FINA At Cleveland Clinic

Just over a week from now at the ASCA World Clinic in Cleveland, after the association’s Business Meeting & Board Election, a presentation by Travis Tygart, head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a coffee, a sandwich, these two significant moments will write themselves into swimming history: the formation meeting of the World Swimming Association; the formation meeting of the Professional Swimmers Association

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Just over a week from now at the ASCA World Clinic in Cleveland, after the association’s Business Meeting & Board Election, a presentation by Travis Tygart, head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a coffee, a sandwich, these two significant moments will write themselves into swimming history: the formation meeting of the World Swimming Association; the formation meeting of the Professional Swimmers Association

Comments

h2tk

And about bloody time! Fantastic.

So does this possibly mean that the WSA will eventually hold their own rival World Champs and World Cups? With strong US support you will quickly get all the other top nations heading Stateside because swimmers just want to be competing with the best. The powerful US TV networks will follow the stars every time and if that means that they frequent the new WSA meets rather than, for example, FINA World Cups, then FINA are in deep trouble.

And then if you have the US Olympic Association (and other national federations and Olympic associations) allowing swimmers to be aligned with either FINA or WSA, then FINA is toast.

h2tk

Oh, and a swimmer’s association is long overdue, an international (presumably) body advocating for swimmers.

There are some very good examples of national swimmer’s associations, such as the Australian Swimmer’s Association, headed by Daniel Kowalski who is their CEO, and Marieke D’Cruz (nee Guehrer), and an amazing Who’s Who of swimmers and former swimmers on their present and past Executive Committees. A very powerful group!

h2tk

Wait, so a professional swimmer’s association something like the ATP and WTA in tennis? Okay, got it now.

Sorry, just thinking out loud.

Ger

Professional Swimmers Assoc.: This sounds, by definition, as though it will exclude amateurs; all college swimmers for example as well as the many throughout the world, so is it more, a professional body, representing all swimmers, or only professionals?
Is FINA too corrupt to change, or is there belief among the attendants at the meeting that they can force a change? And if not, is there enough backing for the WSA to emerge and seriously threaten to take control of swimming from FINA?

Craig Lord

Ger, no swimmer will be excluded, as I understand it: it is just that different criteria will have to apply to different status, as is the case now. The term professional extends beyond what it means for college kids in the USA: it denotes the right to own your image rights and much else, to organise as professionals in a professional way.
I believe FINA will not change if it is not forced to do so. The system is entrenched and in the control of people with everything to lose and nothing to gain, from their standpoint. That’s where we are. As for backing for the WSA etc, that is what is yet to be seen. But try they must if they no longer wish to be controlled by folk leading them in the wrong direction and ignoring all attempts, polite or otherwise, to force debate and even discussion.

Craig Lord

Good thoughts – on the right track ht2k

Ger

Thanks Craig.

Felix Sanchez

Nobody does a better job at outlining the iniquities of FINA than Craig Lord, and as the charge sheet steadily mounts it is tempting for many to voice that thought which has caused so much trouble in politics: “something must be done”.

Never underestimate the potential for things to get worse if tackled without a clear plan. A short-cut to governance for elite coaches and self-described ‘professional’ athletes would be the sporting equivalent of bombing a corrupt, but stable dictator and arming the rebels. In a sport that is still overwhelming amateur, they can not be expected to have the general interest at heart.

It’s so important at this point that no one turns round and claims what high minded, general-interest, great guys some of these elite coaches and athletes are. Give them power, and just watch them turn into Orwellian pigs. Their interests are not the general interest, and their point of view is regularly well-meaning, but limited.

The ATP is not a good example. We are forever comparing ourselves to other professional sports, but never any closer to knowing what our own professional landscape would be. And we are never going to arrive at one by forming a big association to sit around dreaming together. That is to put the cart before the horse. In all professional sports that have won meaningful battles against their governing body, there was a clear product already in place: you create viable professionals, and then they create a professional body, that is the natural order of things.

Craig Lord

The point you make is very valid, Felix – and is something that has already been raised: they’re very aware of it … and just to note, the intention is in no way to have all things run by coaches and senior athletes. Think of it as an upgrade: you add the good old to the improvements while ditching the virus and shoring up the walls, apple-style… as you suggest, the product was there but there was more to it than that… you need a lot of good folk to run a sport, across a lot of areas of knowledge and expertise and drive and will to work.

paolo rubbiani

I remind the historycal battle for swimming’s safety against the shiny suits: Craig Lord was a true protagonist and had great merit in that battle.
Now, another battle has started and it’s as much (or more) important than the former, a battle for an healthy development of swimming, a fantastic sport which deserves much more attention and love of what the present Fina direction has been providing in the last years.
All the 10 points above are important.
I want to point out the third: Pretending to fight the good fight against doping.
For the healthy development of swimming is essential a true battle against doping.

paolo rubbiani

Edit: I remind the historical battle for swimming’ safety against the shiny suits..

Felix Sanchez

Definitely Paolo. With so little media coverage of swimming, Craig’s voice was very important in that battle.

Easier to get clear on a single issue though. This is a murky, many sided situation.

Yozhik

Felix if Professional Association is going to copy FINA then your pessimistic prediction will be realized with 100 percent certainty. Don’t look at this process as a “battle” for the fair sport. Look at it as business start-up. It can survive or can die if the business model is not good or the environment is not appropriate or they are not competitive as business professionals or there is actually no real demand on such service. They can coexist with FINA unless there would be a conflict of interests. This business may not require preconditions and may generate necessary environment on the road. Let’s see.
If to use your metaphor then this cart may not need horse anymore and can run with the internal combustion engine.

Felix Sanchez

The horse is a viable professional arena, the cart is a professional association.

It’s tempting to think the professional association can come first, but it’s a recipe for farce.

Yozhik

If it is just an opposition to FINA then it would be a farce. If they are planning to be profitable then they may grow as Olympic movement did many years ago.

Craig Lord

As fields and ploughs of old tell us, the cart and horse are best in partnership, Felix S. The timing of when the cart is built and the horse is born is less significant than coupling the two at an appropriate season with a realistic harvest in mind (the model – and the business Yozkik mentions). The product is largely there: world-class swimming with great role models, fantastic athletes, wonderful lore and much else we know of. The model for the product is failing. The way swimming has embraced the professional era has been an absolute failure for 99.99% of swimmers and nearly that sum if you only count the cream of the crop. The argument for change, however, is based on a different kind of failure, one that keeps athletes as No2 on the list of priorities after the gravy train, the blazers and all those wedded to keeping the status quo in place because it makes them, the blazers not the athletes, the folk who get a lifelong career as amateurs in professional clothes. No-one is suggesting that athletes should set their own rules and call the shots – nor coaches – but they should have a say on a more significant level than that we have right now. And those who run the show should be a balance of swimming experts, those who understand what counts and where it came from and why things are important and others who bring world-class professional skills to the table. And all must have Integrity as their watchword, one that does not feature in FINA’s dictionary on far too many occasions. The current model of governance is failing badly. It needs to go. And if that can be done while keeping the very many folk who make swimming a great sport, from those in the water and on deck to the officials who do a great job at meets far and wide the world over week in week out, including the big occasions, so much the better. Hard to say that swimming has been out-priced by the greed of incompetents – for that doesn’t touch the sides: the percentage of spent on the greedy has out priced its value to hosts in world-class swimming nations – and the world-class knowledgeable live crowd has largely been lost. Tragic. The leadership, the silence of same and the silence of the lambs that keeps it all in place has long passed its sell by date.

Felix Sanchez

At the risk of flogging this horsey metaphor to death, they can be a good team, but the one always comes first. The horseless farmer who buys a cart first looks a bit silly – and ends up with a sore back!

Yozhik, the Olympic movement is actually a good example. It didn’t start with a large organisation coming up with ideas. Early on they just had a go, and it worked, so it grew and grew. The big organisations came later.

Craig Lord

I think we can credit the group of folk leading events with being more than a flock of horseless farmers buying carts, Felix S 🙂

Yes to your last bit: swimmers and coaches turn up to the party and deliver the show that matters regardless of those who stick their name on it; which is why those who stick their name on it can so easily be replaced, if there is a genuine and big enough will to do so.

Yozhik

Felix S, I don’t see any reason for myself to continue this farmer speculations about eggs and chickens, horses and carts since I honestly have next to zero information of how large the governing body of this organization is going to be, how it will function and what it is planning to do. You probably know much more since you are so certain with your statements.
I am just trying to understand what pushes you to make such strong statements at this forum. Are you just sharing the sadness of your mind or nobly want to warn people that something bad is coming that covers evil intentions with big words? Do you want the swimming community to stand up to prevent this from happening? I am a curios person, but my curiosity can be left unsatisfied. Don’t bother.

Felix Sanchez

Harsh.

Felix Sanchez

‘Horseless farmers’, you’ve hit on the perfect name for them.

Yozhik

If your “harsh” refers to my last post then I have an excuse. People are usually getting harsh when they have nothing to say 🙂 And I have nothing to say. I admited it. I don’t even know why I got involved in all this at first place 🙂 Maybe because your posting didn’t look like supposition but showed you as very opinionated person. That is how it was read by me. Please, excuse me if I didn’t read you right and in reality you are not such a person.

Craig Lord

You would have to know who they are and what they want to be able to think that – and I don’t believe you know nearly enough about those two things to judge adequately, Felix S 🙂 You do know FINA’s leadership and what they have done, though, so how would you describe them?

aswimfan

I just hope the new professional association will make it possible for all swim fans all over the world to be able to watch swimming races/events live, whether on TV network or online, without having to go through the hassle going into one of those spam-ridden malware-infested online tv relays.

I am even willing to pay for quality broadcast, and oftentimes there was just no choice!

Ger

Craig, I see you are listed among the guest speakers, but I see no mention of it in this article. Will you indeed be speaking?

Craig Lord

Ger, I mention it in the article here:
On Saturday, the man who led the call for FINA to submit to review, Bill Sweetenham, left, will take to the stage with George Block, president of WSCA, and this author to consider “The Changing of the World Scene of Swimming: What Do We Want for Our Sport?”

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