James Guy, Jazz Carlin & Chris Mears Lead London 2016 Wave As Ambassadors

James Guy of Great Britain celebrates gold in the 200m freestyle at world titles in 2015 - by Patrick B. Kraemer

World Champion James Guy and Worlds podium placers Jazmin Carlin and diver Chris Mears have been appointed official ambassadors to the London 2016 LEN European Aquatics Championships.

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Apologies for the off topic comment but I wanted to request an article topic. If you or Mr. Lohn could write re: the history of professional swimming I would be very interested to read it. Not sure if that has been done already here or elsewhere. Would appreciate it if you guys tackled the task- I enjoy Swimvortex because the quality of writing is good (some other swimming sites have articles seemingly written by high school students). Thanks. -ES

Craig Lord

A good topic easyspeed, and one we’ll get to at some stage. We’ve touched on it here and there before but there is a whole history to it, of course (and one that is quite topical to current events in swimming, of course). I can’t promise we’ll get there anytime soon: much else on at the moment. Thanks for your reminder of a topic that does merit deeper appreciation and understanding (it will be particularly pertinent to some events in 2017, I would imagine).



Swimvortex contributor’s John Lohn has already written such book:

Historical Dictionary of Competitive Swimming (Historical Dictionaries of Sports) Hardcover – August 30, 2010
by John P. Lohn (Author)

Craig Lord

aswimfan, a fine volume but I don’t think that’s what easy speed is quite looking for – though it does have some references that one can piece together on the subject


Mr. Lord and aswimfan- thank you for the responses. To clarify, I am interested not in the history of competitive swimming, but the history of “professional” swimming. I suppose one would need to start by defining the term. For example, Missy Franklin, Michael Andrew and Ryan Lochte are “professional swimmers.” What does that mean? The IOC didn’t allow pros to compete in the Olympics until.. I think it was 1992? The NCAA still doesn’t allow “professionals.” I guess I had in mind American swimming, which is my reference point. But I would like to learn more about how it works in Europe and Australia. Also- it begs the questions if government sponsored swimmers can be considered professional. Such as the former USSR or East Germany.. as well as China currently. I dunno, just something I was thinking about and wanted to learn more about.


I know in the mid 1990s the best collage swimmer in the country, Tom Dolan, turned down his final two years of eligibility to collect prize money from USA swimming. And then of course Phelps was able to skip college swimming all together. And then the professional meet series came about and that has really been beneficial for sponsored swimmers who want to get racing practice and exposure. I’d like to learn more how about the Grand Prix (now Arena Pro) came about..


Biondi and Jager also helped pave the road for pro swimming…


There was no professional sport in former USSR. Everybody were amateurs if not to count officials who governed sport arrears. They WERE professionals 🙂 of a kind. Athletes were paid strongly regulated salaries by ‘working’ at some imaginary places doing some imaginary job. But paperwork and time-sheets were perfectly maintained to protect the amateur status. To decrease the tendency of elite athletes to leave the country for real professional earnings the elite sportsmen received some unofficial bonuses in form of being put in priviladge position in Soviet distribution system. That allowed to obtain some deficit goods for well beyond cost prices.


*sport affairs


We would have perhaps seen another Olympics from Spitz had Olympians been allowed to earn sponsorship money back then..


@ Yozik: well said. Yes, that is what I was alluding to. Thanks.


It would be interesting to know what prompted the IOC to reverse their previous position re: wanting the Olympics to be amateur only. (I’m glad they did allow pros, btw, very smart move. Wish the NCAA would do the same).


‘Amateur-only’ went away when the IOC and sports federations were finally forced to admit that a good number of nations were effectively hiding entire professional sports programs inside their ‘military recreation’ programs (see the Soviet Red Army hockey teams) and that allowing athletes to earn money ‘above the table’ in their sports was a fairer way to go than the existing system.


Is that what it was? Makes sense. Anyway, I appreciate Craig entertaining my suggestion and possibly writing on the topic when if/when he has time.


Whilst pre WW1, amateurs were highly predominant in most top-level sports; post war economics rendered it necessary for most to have to work for a living. End result being that post university years; only those of legitimate wealth or with extremely generous employers could continue to compete in top level sport as amateurs.

This was even further delineated post WW2. The USSR had essentially isolated itself from international sport in the period between the wars and only re-entered major international competitions in the early 50s.

Did they actually originate the “state supported” athlete in modern times ? Maybe not as Nazi Germany & Italy certainly gave many high-level sportsmen well supported positions inside military and state institutions. China probably still has strong elements of this system and there is little doubt that PRK still operates along these lines.

By the 60’s, it was patently clear that the Eastern bloc “shamateurs” were de facto professionals and other nations (Japan most notably) were finding loopholes via the payrolls of major corporations.

The greatest roadblock to reform in the Olympic system was the longterm president, Avery Brundage, an arch-conservative Chicago property and construction millionaire. It was not until his retirement in 1972, that any reforms were possible but large-scale reform was sidelined by political issues during the 70’s & into the 80’s.

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