U.S. Swimming Pyramid, National Foundation for the Sport

PHOENIX, Arizona, June 2. IN A Voice for the Sport in the June issue of Swimming World Magazine, publisher Brent Rutemiller looks into a possible national foundation for the sport of swimming the U.S.

Everything erodes over time unless it is cared for and maintained properly. The base is the first to be built and the last to go. The crumbling almost always starts at the top—not the very top, but usually a few layers down. If not cared for, the entire structure is in danger of collapsing.

So is the case for the competitive swimming pyramid.

The learn-to-swim base has never been stronger. From private lessons to entire swim schools, more and more children are learning to swim in the United States. The base is huge and will continue to grow.

On top of the swim-lesson base is the first layer of competitive swimmers who are stepping onto racing blocks for the first time. This layer is made up of more than 2 million summer league swimmers getting their first taste of competition.

The next layer contains those who are willing to move to the year-round platform. This stratum consists of approximately 300,000 swimmers comprised of USA Swimming and YMCA teams.

The high school programs, with their 250,000 athletes, form the next level of the pyramid. Participation at this level draws from all three levels with a large number of swimmers competing for the first time.

About 15,000 of these swimmers will move on to form the collegiate level of the pyramid. This is a dwindling number that keeps the top from collapsing and the layer below from eroding. One could say it is the glue that holds the capstone—which represents those who go on to represent the United States in international competition—in place.

The entire United States Swimming Pyramid, from top to bottom, is a monument to the years of cooperation among all levels.

However, experts continually warn, with good cause, that the collegiate level shows signs of crumbling, and the rate of collapse is accelerating each year. The University of Cincinnati dropped funding. New Orleans is on the brink. The Pac-10 Conference now has five men's swimming teams after the dismantling of the University of Washington's program.

It is apparent that the financial mortar holding the collegiate level together is under severe duress.

Talk of budget cuts from other college programs loom larger and larger every day. The cost of technical suits continues to weigh heavily on budgets. Spending $20,000 each season on performance suits so a team can remain competitive within its conference was unheard of just two years ago.

Fearful is the college swim coach who has to walk into the athletic director's office to ask for a larger budget just to stay competitive. Coaches are frantically trying to find new mortar material to keep their athletic bricks in place by soliciting endowments and hosting fund-raising efforts.

But these efforts are not happening fast enough.

Just as the problem could affect the entire system, the solution must be systemic.

A national foundation that gathers financial support for college swimming must be established. A foundation can solicit funds from all levels of the pyramid—from learn-to-swim programs through Masters. The cause is just and the mission is real. Every level has a vested interest in seeing that the swimming pyramid in the United States lasts as long as the ones in Egypt.

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June 2009 Issue

Contents of The June issue:

7 CLIMBING THE LADDER by John Lohn
Here's a look at some of the rising stars who could carry the American banner in the years to come, perhaps as early as this summer's World Championships in Rome.
10 CELEBRATING 50+ YEARS IN AQUATICS: 1977-80 by Jeff Commings
As we celebrate 50+ years in aquatics, Swimming World Magazine will be taking a trip through history, highlighting some of the top moments of the magazine's existence.
12 THEN AND NOW by Jeff Commings
Russian Vladimir Salnikov and Australian Grant Hackett are two of the most outstanding distance swimmers ever, with both swimmers accomplishing an undefeated streak in the 1500 meter free of more than 10 years—still standing as the longest winning streaks in men's swimming.
14 COLLEGE ROUNDUP by Jason Marsteller and Judy Jacob
Drury (NCAA-II), Kenyon (NCAA-III) and Indian River (NJCAA) women's and men's swimming and diving teams swept their respective collegiate championships, while Cal Baptist's men won their fourth straight NAIA title and Savannah College of Art and Design won its first-ever NAIA women's title.
22 A TROPICAL PARADISE by Steven Munatones
Competition and camaraderie. Beaches and beauty. Coral and coconuts. Fiji Swims has it all.
24 SYNCHRO GOES TO COLLEGE by Eric Velazquez
Synchronized swimming is slowly, but surely, taking a foothold in collegiate athletics, perhaps paving the way to greater success internationally.

DEPARTMENTS:
6 A VOICE for the SPORT
52 FOR THE RECORD
59 CALENDAR
62 PARTING SHOT

In the Swimming Technique portion of the magazine you will find the following:

34 Q&A WITH COACH MICHAEL GOBRECHT, WEST SHORE YMCA by Michael J. Stott
36 HOW THEY TRAIN: Steven Gasparini by Michael J. Stott
37 CHANGES OF SWIMMING VELOCITY DURING THE SWIM CYCLE by Genadijus Sokolovas
40 UNPOPULAR WISDOM by Ron Johnson
Rather than swimming in a straight line, the best method of moving effectively from one point to the next is moving in symmetrical waves.
42 USSSA: Water Baby Class by Albert Paliwoda
44 STEPPING UP by Michael J. Stott
Coaches and swim club officials discuss the "when," "where" and "why" of moving age group swimmers to different training groups.

In the SWIM portion of the magazine you will find the following:


27 THE POOL'S EDGE: 12 Steps to Swimming Success by Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen
Whether you are a newbie or a veteran of the sport, here are 12 simple steps to help you achieve swimming success.
28 LANE LEADERS: Trina Radke-Gerry by Emily Sampl
30 IT'S NEVER TOO LATE by Jeff Commings
More than 600 athletes took part in the YMCA Masters Nationals, some of whom have only recently learned to swim.
32 THE WORKOUT CARD: Training with St. Petersburg Aquatics by Fred Lewis

In the Junior Swimmer portion of the magazine you will find the following:
47 NATIONAL AGE GROUP RECORD SETTERS: City of Plano 15-16 Boys 400 Yard Medley and 400 Yard Freestyle Relay
48 SPEEDO AMERICAN RELAY by Judy Jacob
49 TYR AGE GROUP SWIMMERS OF THE MONTH: Ryan and Brandon Hoffer
50 YMCA NATIONALS: Sarasota Sweep by Judy Jacob

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