Frank Busch: Possible Late Start For Swimming Finals Will Not Affect USA Olympic Team

Photo by Peter H. Bick

COLORADO SPRINGS – If the International Olympic Committee allows swimming finals at the 2016 Olympics to start as late as 10 p.m. to accommodate the wishes of American broadcaster NBC to air the races live, the American swimmers will be ready to race at that time, according to the team’s leader.

“Whenever the sessions begin, we will be ready to perform at our highest level and carry on our tradition of incredible Olympic success,” USA Swimming National Team Director Frank Busch told Swimming World today.

An early draft of the timeline for swimming competition in 2016 includes a 10 p.m. start for finals and a 10:30 a.m. start for preliminaries each day. Swimming Australia has already called out the IOC for pandering to broadcasters at the risk of hurting athletes. Busch’s statement does not outright condemn the proposal for a late start, which is similar to the view USA Swimming took in 2008 when finals for swimming events at the Beijing Olympic took place in the morning to allow NBC to show races live in two of the four U.S. time zones.

At the 2008 Olympics, Team USA won 31 medals in swimming. Michael Phelps made history with eight gold medals, the most by any athlete in a single Olympics. Boosted in part by the introduction of the polyurethane full-body swimsuits, 14 world records were set at the meet.

Australian Libby Trickett, who won gold in the 100 butterfly at the 2008 Olympics, has spoken out publicly against the proposed time schedule for 2016, saying the later start means less sleep for athletes between finals and the next day’s heats.

3 comments

  1. avatar

    Frank:

    Stand up, be counted, show some gumption and say this is the stupidest idea since the IOC cut swimming to two entries per country per event following the Montreal Olympics.

    Tell the Rio Organizers if they dare put the finals at 10 PM the U.S. and EVERY other major swim power on the planet will BOYCOTT the Games– NBC be damned.

    Stand up for what’s right and not just parrot the party line out of Colorado Springs!

    Afraid you’ll get sacked if you tell the truth?

    You ‘ll be a hero for telling it like it is.

    • avatar
      John

      Or what if Michael Phelps says he will refuse to do any interviews, etc. with NBC?
      Even if Phelps said “I’m older now and I don’t think I’ll be able to do as well late at night” it could make them think.
      This is why I always cringe when people say “Swimming ‘needs’ this , that or the other”. If the sport did get bigger like some want it would be more and more at the mercy of non-swimming organisations. US TV companies would make all events pay-per-view and you’d rarely see events in full that weren’t split by adverts (commercials)…. Some broadcasters would even split 50 or 100 races to show an ad!

  2. avatar
    Leander

    The 10:30 AM prelim start time seems really foolish with the 10 PM final start time on the other end. Maybe they should start prelims later in the day, which would help solve this. HOWEVER, when people were whining about having finals in the morning at Beijing, Aaron Piersol said something like because it’s the Olympics, it shouldn’t be too hard to swim really fast in the morning. And, they pretty much all did.

    Also, while I agree it would not be easy to swim prelims and finals multiple days in a row, there aren’t that many swimmers who will be doing that. And, if you don’t NBC dictating things, then let’s do away with professional swimming. All professional athletes make sacrifices to increase the bottom line. Like in the NFL, where they sometimes play two games in the space of 100 hours or so, which is not good for your health.