Belmonte & Hosszu Top Marathon Race Stakes

Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and Mireia Belmonte (ESP) accounted for 8 of 13 solo world records on 2013 world cup tour [Photo: Patrick B. Kraemer]

Holiday round-up: in Reunion, Katinka Hosszu ends a marathon 2013 race season for silver in the distance stakes behind Mireia Belmonte; seasonal cheer for Dagny Knutson as she takes up college scholarship; Bruno Fratus is back; Arena US change hands; Ivey ban confirmed

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Holiday round-up: in Reunion, Katinka Hosszu ends a marathon 2013 race season for silver in the distance stakes behind Mireia Belmonte; seasonal cheer for Dagny Knutson as she takes up college scholarship; Bruno Fratus is back; Arena US change hands; Ivey ban confirmed



Good on Grand Canyon University but isn’t it time American College rules changed? It is the 21st century and we live in a world dominated by $ (unfortunately) but I am opposed to swimmers not being able to win prize money or funding. As fantastic as University swimming is in America and especially for all the foreigners who can take advantage of the brilliant system there are major flaws when you have issues like the one above.

Craig thank you for all your hard work over the year. I am on your site every day and read plenty of interesting articles and appreciate how quickly you get international results on your site for everyone to enjoy. Happy new year

Craig Lord

Thanks for the kind note, felixdangerpants … I forgot in the awards rush to name you as Outstanding Reader Pseudonym of the Year 🙂

not so fast

While you can argue that the NCAA ought do things differently, they are not the villains here. The rules were well established when Dagny made her choice. The real villain was the then National Team Director of USA Swimming, a world class recruiter and coach who convinced Dagny to give up her amateur status and NCAA eligibility by recruiting her to go pro and swim a his favored club team. He promised that USA Swimming would pay for her to attend the college of her choosing. When he got fired, USA Swimming did not feel compelled to keep the promises made on their behalf by their employee after Dagny fell out of the World Rankings due to her illness.

USA Swimming recruited this girl to be a professional, and then dumped her when she got sick. They even dropped her medical insurance. What other professional sports organization in this day and age abandons their athletes due to injury or illness? USA Swimming should have done the right thing and put the athlete they recruited to become a professional ahead of whatever institutional policies they chose to hide behind. The problem is, unlike the NCAA, no one holds USA Swimming accountable for the abuse of their athletes.

Craig Lord

Thanks for those points swimdad… of course athletes should be looked after at a time of difficulty, especially by the people who have set them on a particular course. I was not seeking to blame the NCAA for Dagny’s predicament in particular: just that, viewed from outside the USA in 2013, almost 2014, the NCAA rules do look very dated indeed. An athlete should be able to earn a living from what they excel at and study and train all at once, even if that means rules that grant a % of earnings to coach/program (and programs could probably do with some support at a time of closures that coincide with one swimmer alone on world cup tour picking up $330,000 plus in another world) and the introduction of trust funds. I think it could be much smarter, the whole system – and still retain its ‘hunger’ strength. best, Craig


Crouse is just plain wrong in the ‘for every Franklin comment…’ I, like many, thought Knutson had the potential to reach to the top; however, she didn’t. She could of hedged her bets for a bit longer, or even started a college career with the thought of dropping out of the NCAA, but she took a risk, which she later regretted.

A comparison with Franklin doesn’t work. Franklin has made a terrible decision. There was no risk whatsoever, with her already missing out on potential prize money and sponsorship far in excess of a scholarship’s worth. So for every Franklin there’s countless… nothing, to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

There’s nothing wrong with elite amateurism, and if athletes were allowed to make money, the argument in favour of free education and living would soon dry up.

NCAA Coach

Felix and Craig,,

Franklin’s decison was what she wanted, and that YOU value the money more than she does, isn’t really the point. She valued the opportunity to go and compete in the NCAA and have her education at Cal, one of the top universities in the US. Word is she will do that for two years and then go pro. Nothing wrong with that decision. Countless international swimmers come to the US to compete in the NCAA specifically because the NCAA system provides them with the ability to attend university AND continue to compete and have it all paid for.

The reality is that there is simply not the kind of money in professional level swimming to pay for as many athletes that the NCAA institutions fund through scholarships, so to suggest that the lure of a college scholarship would be replaced by the money currently available for swimmers able to accept endorsements and earn prize money. Only of a small percentage of NCAA athletes are “elite” enough that they could make as much money as their college scholarships are worth. Swimmers ARE allowed to make money, they just cannot swim in the NCAA and do it. However, very few swimmers could make enough money to fund their college education and living expenses. The sport does not have that kind of money in it.

Crouse’s point was exactly that. For every Franklin (superstar) there are a lot of kids that never make that level. And for USA Swimming to have recruited a swimmer like Dagny with promises of a paid education and health care, and then not live up to those promises, is just plain wrong. USA Swimming should be acting in the best interests of their athletes – and they did not in Dagny’s case.

Should the NCAA model be updated? Probably. But it is their model and the University Presidents that make up their Management Council need to work that out. Depending on what happens with the current NCAA reform process, especially as it relates to the revenue sports of football and basketball, reforms could either open the door to allowing NCAA swimmers to be professional, OR it could create a situation where most of the universities drop their sponsorship of the sport of swimming because of the cost to Universities of essentially running the minor leagues for those professional revenue sports. If that happens, then tell me where the money will come from for all of the DI and DII swimmers currently on scholarships to have their college educations and their swimming and competition expenses subsidized? I don’t see that happening.

The reality is that the swimmers in the US (and those from outside the US) who want to attend a US university and compete need the NCAA more than the NCAA needs them. College swimming programs are expensive enterprises. To have a well funded program for say 20 men and 20 women, with a full coaching staff, a good travel and operating budget, facility, and full scholarship funding costs almost $1 million for a combined men’s & women’s program. And there is no offsetting revenue to that expense that comes in from swimming. Some programs may run club teams and swim schools, camps and/or clinics to bring in some revenue, but that is minimal, an usually goes to enhance coach salaries, not to offset operating budgets in any significant way.

I would love to see the NCAA move to allowing pro swimmers compete, but in reality, it is a very small number of swimmers who that would ever impact in a positive financial way. It is a shame that Dagny Knutson lost her college eligibility because of a decision she made as a result of the recruitment of USA Swimming for her to go pro. It is a travesty that USA Swimming was the reason and did not stand by her after her illness. That is the story here. Not that a few elite swimmers could be served by the NCAA allowing them to be NCAA eligible AND be professionals.

Craig Lord

NCAA Coach, thanks for the explanation. I fully understood and understand what the story is – and I think the vast majority of our readers know it, too … and the deeper nuance of Karen’s story would surely not have been lost on them (USA Swimming, if that agreement and promise were as reported, has a case to answer and a better direction to find). That does not prevent us from raising a point noted reasonably often from outside the US among those who look in and wonder, not at a system that produces many winners (for that is obvious) but at an outdated system that could better accommodate the very few, as you suggest, who make it to the very top of sport. Franklin should not need to have made a choice in 2013: a trust fund would have solved the problem. When Sun Yang earned $1m plus after London 2012, he had to give two thirds of the pot to his federation and to be shared among all on the China national team. That model may well need some tweaking for any US version but even so … If Missy had been allowed to have earnings placed in trust, under a contract that also granted her college program (perhaps all in a single division) a share of earnings, her program might well be something like $300,000 or (much) more better off by now. Such sums would not solve all financial burdens for programs – but help they would. Such issues are part of the story, too, whether that is seen like that in the US or not, particularly at a time when swimmers are starting to pick up $100,000 (far more than was the case just a few years ago) to $500,000 (very few) in a single year. All best, Craig


NCAA Coach,

Thanks for the analysis. It does seem to confirm what I was suggesting above, that professionalism seeping to NCAA could destabilise the system. It definitely has its place.

The story is Knutson, the Franklin comment by Crouse was pointless. Of course, for every champion there’s countless swimmers who come up short, no one needs something that simple pointed out. To bother making the comment, is to suggest that there is some relevance to the Knutson situation, but there is isn’t. It’s not as if Franklin is the one who it happened to work out for: when she was in position to make the pro decision, there was already no risk for her.

Your comments about Franklin’s decision are really rather foolish. Of course it was what she wanted (what an odd thing to bother saying). In life there’s all sorts of reasons to not do what we want, or why we might not want the right thing – particularly as teenagers. Money is obviously a primary concern in most people’s career planning, I don’t think the capitalised ‘YOU’ was necessary. Is there an amount of money at which you’d agree it was a terrible decision? (And bare in mind the potential for a reverse Knutson, with Franklin getting I’ll or injured, or just losing form, over the next couple of years, and never regaining her earning power.) In terms of education at Cal, I assume they’d be willing to let her pay her own way.

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