Swimming World Presents “A Voice for the Sport: The World Cup is Dead!”

Swimming World October 2019 Voice for the Sport The World Cup is Dead

A Voice for the Sport: The World Cup is Dead!

By Craig Lord

Do you doubt the headline of this article?

Then enter these old-timers into today’s World Cup pool to see how they would place: Pam Kruse, Martha Randall, Debbie Meyer, Karen Moras, Shane Gould, Shirley Babashoff, Karen Muir, Catie Ball, Cathy Carr, Galina Prozumenschikova, Ada Kok, Donna de Varona, Claudia Kolb. And on the men’s side: Alain Mosconi, Greg Charlton, Mark Spitz through Hans Fassnacht, Gunnar Larsson, Tom McBreen, Brad Cooper, Kurt Krumpholz, Rick DeMont, Michael Burton, Roland Matthes, John Hencken, David Wilkie, Kevin Berry, Gary Hall, Dick Roth to András Hargitay and other pacesetters of the Class of the ’60s and early ’70s.

“Hey, old-timers, take a look: half a century hence, your times are going to be good for a place in a final at a ‘World Cup’ in a level-deck pool with lane lines, blocks, goggles, full-time professional training programs and coaches, sports scientists and more—all part of an arsenal of performance-powering progress. What d’ya think?”

Cue virtual belly laughs of the greats for the very real belly flop that FINA has allowed the World Cup to become.
An overlay circa 1969/2019 might be mistaken for satire: results at the latest round of the FINA World Cup in Singapore would have had Shane Gould and Mark Spitz, heroes of the 1972 Olympics, still in vogue on the clock.

Tick, tock: Gould, 1973—sixth in the women’s 1500; Spitz, 1967 and the first world record of his career—fourth in the men’s 400 free. Take Australians and a handful of others out of the pool, and you have a local youth gala…not a World Cup.

In 2019, the event title is only true because all 200-plus FINA member nations may show up if they wish, regardless of whether the swimmers are traveling at the pace of the 1960s—60 years on as we approach 2020 and Tokyo comes into view as an Olympic city 56 years beyond de Varona, Schollander & Co.

What went wrong after all the promise of cars parked on deck as prizes at the start of a new “pro-era” in pools on a European circuit in the 1980s? This: FINA took over from 1988—and evolution stopped at allowing swimmers to receive pay. The program stayed, and grew and grew.

A complex points system was compounded by an insistence on towing the entire six -, then seven-, now eight-day World Championship program into the Cup’s two-day meets, while the globetrotting that was required of swimmers deterred participation because of cost and energy (including the carbon footprint kind of late). Four hours of heats—as well as finals lacking context or meaning beyond the narrow pool of the faithful and the few who saw their earning power soar—also made the Cup look and feel stale.

Ironically, Katinka Hosszu, who became a millionaire by a Cup format that suited her well, contributed to that feeling: one swimmer’s victory in every race on every stroke and every distance three seasons straight lacked the excitement of what makes swimming the true thrill it can be: racing.

FINA killed it and then sought to kill off the threat—namely the International Swimming League—until athletes intervened to back a new pro-tour, pledging a 50-50 share for athletes. The international federation’s response was to keep the Cup and bolt on a Champions’ Series that ended elite-level universality (the bedrock of votes needed to maintain governance status quo).

What should FINA do?

Think anew. Take advice. Consider a team-based, duel-style Clash of Continents, leave the championship program to the championship, replace “World” with “Development” Cup, and accept that the best 300 or so will be racing in the League in the latter part of each year from now on.

Yes, the World Cup is dead. Long live new and evolving showcases for swimming between the Olympics.

Craig Lord
Editor-in-Chief
Swimming World Magazine

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Swimming World October 2019 Cover Daiya Seto

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FEATURES

024 MYSTERIES OF OUR MUSEUM: A MYSTERIOUS MEDAL
by Bruce Wigo
A beautiful bronze medal commemorating a Japan-USA-Denmark International Swimming Meet led to the story of the best all-around woman swimmer from the early 1950s who also became one of the best Masters swimmers ever: Gail Peters Roper.

026 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: DAWN OF GREATNESS
by John Lohn
When the 2020 Olympic Games open next July, there will be no round-number anniversary of what Australian Dawn Fraser accomplished 56 years earlier in 1964. Rather, it is the site of the Olympiad that resonates. As Tokyo prepares to host the world’s finest athletes, it also serves as the place where Fraser became the first swimmer ever to win Olympic gold in the same event at three consecutive Games—a feat that, even now, is wildly difficult to comprehend.

030 IT’S TIME FOR SOME RESPECT
by John Lohn
For someone to boast four World titles and seven individual medals from the World Championships, the instant assumption is that he stands out as one of the biggest names in the sport. Sure, Japan’s Daiya Seto is respected by his rivals and generally around the pool, but his exploits are greater than the recognition that has been given.

034 FASTER THAN EVER
by David Rieder
Heading into the 2020 Olympics, a young American sprint corps has turned the United States into heavy gold-medal favorites in both the 100 free and 400 free relay. However, the real contest will come at the U.S. Trials, where Olympic hopefuls must get through a cutthroat gauntlet of speed in order to earn their spots for Tokyo.

038 THE NEW “KIDS” ON THE BLOCK
by Craig Lord
This month marks the beginning of a new era in swimming with the unveiling of the International Swimming League, featuring a new and dynamic format of swimming that includes a global Pro-Team tour with some of the world’s greatest swimmers in action.

COACHING

010 LESSONS WITH THE LEGENDS: KAREN MOE HUMPHREYS
by Michael J. Stott

014 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: SHOULDER INJURY PREVENTION FOR THE FREESTYLE ARM ENTRY
by Rod Havriluk
Every team’s injury management plan should include strategies to address the freestyle arm entry and prevent shoulder injury. Major benefits also include increasing the index of coordination and, thereby, increasing swimming velocity.

016 A CASE FOR HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING: ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL
by Michael J. Stott
The verdict is unanimous: high school swimming adds immeasurable value to the career and experience of a young athlete.

051 Q&A WITH COACH TERRY JONES
by Michael J. Stott

052 HOW THEY TRAIN KAITLYNN SIMS AND LILLIE NORDMANN
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

013 DRYSIDE TRAINING: BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

042 GOLDMINDS: BUILDING A TEAM OF GREAT SWIMMING PARENTS
by Wayne Goldsmith
When given the opportunity to understand the importance of their role and their influence, swimming parents can become the most powerful, positive force in their child’s life.

054 UP & COMERS: KEATON JONES
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 BEYOND THE YARDS

018 DID YOU KNOW? MARTHA NORELIUS

019 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

044 PREP SCHOOL DIRECTORY

055 GUTTERTALK

056 PARTING SHOT

3 comments

  1. Joshua Zhang

    Bridget Lin thoughts?

    • Bridget Lin

      Joshua Zhang hmm it’s bc FINA isn’t listening to the athletes… Everyone’s competing at the ISL rn- good racing and a chance to earn money

    • Joshua Zhang

      Fina the old snobs hehehe