Mexican Artistic Swimming Turns to Fundraising, Patronage of Carlos Slim

Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins - UVM Athletics

Mexican Artistic Swimming Turns to Fundraising, Patronage of Carlos Slim

In an effort to make ends meet, Mexican artistic swimming program has turned to fundraising and the patronage of rich benefactors within the country.

Reuters detailed the efforts this week, with the artistic swimming program selling bathing suits and towels to make up for funding shortfalls. The creative methods of financing were required when Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport (CONADE) stopped providing support.

The crowd-funding was led by three-time Olympian Nuria Diosdado. It brought the swimmers’ plight to the attention of Carlos Slim, the billionaire businessman and one-time richest man in the world, who has a long history of investing in sporting ventures and philanthropic giving.

The struggle for funding is nothing new in Mexico, sadly. Swimmers in particular have long sounded alarm bells of not being funded to promised levels by CONADE and the Mexican Swimming Federation. Among the consequences of such reductions are smaller rosters at international events, including at the Olympics.

Slim’s funding was required to allow Mexico to swim at the World Artistic Championships this weekend in Egypt.

“The initiative was born to have a fund for what has to be paid because we don’t know how far this situation will go,” Diosdado told Reuters. “We were informed that support will be withdrawn for any sporting event and any competition we have until the political situation is resolved. It is something that we as athletes have no influence on and can do nothing.”

Some of the funding shortfall stems from the Mexican federation retrenching after an embezzlement scandal, with former president Kiril Todorov having allegedly misappropriated funds. CONADE in January informed the artistic swimmers of funding cuts. It has applied across aquatic disciplines in Mexico. World Aquatics, for its part, has offered its support in the form of an encouraging video message from president Husain Al-Musallam and promises for monetary support to send athletes to international events.

Diosdado has qualified for the last three Games, advancing to the finals in the top 12 each of the last two installments.

“This (search for funds) is a movement, a shake-up so that they understand that we have the desire to compete, that they have an army of athletes ready, they simply need to move the correct pieces in their desks for this to work,” Diosdado added.

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