The USOC’s Venture 2000 Program, under which USA Swimming is being given $288,000 a year for two years to distribute among athletes with “Olympic medal potential” has been launched. According to Chuck Weilgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming, some 70 athletes applied for the support grants. Forty received grants ranging from $2,000 to $14,000.
The distribution of the funds has generated considerable controversy. At least one American record-holder, Neil Walker (100m fly, 52.76) received no funds at all, apparently because he was deemed not to have medal potential. National Team Director Dennis Pursley said grants were based on both medal potential and financial need, so some athletes with no financial need but great medal potential, such as Jenny Thompson and Lenny Krayzelburg, received additional financial support.
An additional $288,000 will be available in 2000, with applications due in September.