3 Big Swimming Trends of 2014

PHOENIX – Though we weren’t blessed (some might say cursed) by another “Call Me Maybe” video or a string of swim teams showing us the “Harlem Shake” this year, we did have three exciting trends that spread across the American swimming community and connected us with fun and encouragement.

“Streamlining” had swimmers and non-swimmers showing their best poses

It started in late June with a photo from Ryan Lochte, and if Lochte does something, his legion of fans are going to follow. Sitting at a table full of food that would barely satisfy a horse, Lochte had his arms in the air, smiling as he demonstrated a perfect streamline position.

With that Tweet, the #Streamlining hashtag took off, with more than 100 photos posted on Twitter in 24 hours. The hashtag was created by USA Swimming as an offshoot of its SwimToday and #funnestsport campaign, designed to showcase the fun aspects of the sport.

The trend carried over to the USA Swimming junior and senior nationals:

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Audience streamlines at senior nationals

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

The trend didn’t stop last summer. Here’s a Tweet from the Louisville swim team last week on a training trip in Florida:

Swimming community rallies to support swimmers with cancer

When one of our own needs a helping hand – whether it’s financial support or just some words of encouragement – swimmers know how to show charity. That was the case twice this year when two swimmers were diagnosed with various forms of cancer.

At the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz., last April, word spread that a local swimmer was battling with leukemia and was faced with the possibility of ending his swimming career to battle the disease full-time. Stephen Dwyer got the VIP treatment at the meet, getting face time with some of the best in the sport. A few months later, the #DwyerStrong hashtag appeared on Twitter, and suddenly the entre nation was showing their support of the 16-year-old. Naturally, Conor Dwyer was at the forefront, sporting a shirt with the hashtag when posting with Stephen at the USA Swimming nationals in August.

Conor Dwyer and Stephen Dwyer

Photo Courtesy: USA Swimming

In June, 13-year-old Chase Smith was diagnosed with cancer. Almost immediately, famous swimmers got behind the cause, posting photos and Tweets with the hashtag #chasestrong. Once again, Conor Dwyer was behind this cause, posing in a photo with North Baltimore teammates Michael Phelps and Chase Kalisz.

Chase Kalisz Michael Phelps Conor Dwyer for chasestrong hashtag support

Photo Courtesy: Pam Swander

Ice Bucket Challenge

Though the ice bucket challenge wasn’t started by the swimming community, it became a quickly-growing trend this summer that supported a great cause. What started as a way to raise awareness for ALS turned into a viral video campaign that might have stretched beyond the initial goal. Nonetheless, ALS research has received more than $115 million in donations, so those who got freezing cold buckets of water thrown on them this year should know that it was not in vain.

There are way too many ice bucket challenges to highlight here. We will show only one, and it’s probably the most touching and heartbreaking all at once. It features Olympian Eadie Wetzel Davis as her sons commit her to an ice bucket challenge. The agony of the video is seeing Wetzel Davis in a wheelchair as one of the millions of victims of ALS.

It was a great year to watch how supportive the swimming community can be in times of crisis. While we can hope that 2015 will not bring heartbreak and tragedy to our sport, we know that is not possible. All we can do is be the best friends, the best teammates and the best members of the best sport in the world.

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Author: Jeff Commings

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Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for SwimmingWorld.com and Swimming World Magazine. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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