British Swimming and Water Polo Face Hard Times In Wake of UK Sport Funding Cuts

LOUGHBOROUGH, England, December 18. BRITISH Swimming today announced a drastic drop in funding from major supporter UK Sport, seeing a 15 percent cutback for the 2016 Olympic cycle.

British Swimming will receive 21.3 million pounds (about $37 million) through the 2016 Olympics, which is about 4 million pounds less than the organization received from UK Sport for the 2012 Olympic quadrennial. Reports point to the sport's failure to reach the target of five to seven medals at the Olympics as a reason for the funding reduction. Great Britain collected just three medals in its home pool.

“While disappointed with the award for swimming, we recognize we need to rebuild confidence that we can deliver medals at Olympic level consistently before we can demand more investment,” said British Swimming CEO David Sparkes.

Though British swimmers did not meet expectations last summer, they did win medals. Four sports that left the Olympics with zero medals will see massive funding growth in the next four years, according to BBC Sports: fencing, synchronized swimming, women's water polo and wrestling.

British Swimming was not the only Olympic sport to win at least one medal and get a funding cut from UK Sport. Judo, which celebrated two medals, will receive a 9.3 percent funding cut, from 7.49 million pounds to 6.8 million pounds.

While most athletes are celebrating across the United Kingdom today, others are worrying about the future of their sport. Men's water polo was hit the worst with today's news, with its funding completely yanked away. Women's water polo, on the other hand, received a 1.5 million pounds increase in funding. Basketball, handball, table tennis and wrestling are also getting their funding completely pulled.

Sparkes said that the funding cut for men's water polo does not mean the program will lose support from British Swimming, which oversees all aquatic sports in the UK.

“Clearly there will be disappointment that men's water polo missed out but we will now work hard with the vibrant British water polo community to see what we can do to build an effective and appropriate program for them,” Sparkes said.

Diving, under the celebrity status of Tom Daley, will continue to thrive in this Olympic cycle, with a raise of 1 million pounds to 7.5 million pounds.

UK Sport organizes and distributes government and National Lottery funding for British sports, and will be awarding 347 million pounds ($562 million) to Olympic sports, an 11 percent increase, according to BBC Sports. The funding will, in part, pay salaries for staff at the British Swimming headquarters. It also helps operate the five Intensive Training Centers around the country, as well as fund team trips for training and competition. In a statement, Sparkes said he expects cutbacks to take place, pointing to staff at the ITCs as a possible budget cut.

Today's news is not completely dire for British Swimming. Its major sponsor, British Gas, continues to support grassroots efforts to develop young swimmers with club grants, and will be an exclusive sponsor for its national swimming championships through 2015. Olympic silver medalist Michael Jamieson was recently announced as British Gas ambassador.