Why an Olympic Year is Great for the Sport of Swimming

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Why an Olympic Year is Great for the Sport of Swimming

By Annika Hobson, Swimming World College Intern

Buzzing with anticipation, sports fans are eagerly awaiting the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and eight days of fast swimming. For the most part, swimming is a beloved sport to only swimmers. But when the Summer Olympics roll around, swimming grabs a wide audience. Watching the Olympians compete at the highest level of their sport inspires swimmers and non-swimmers alike to become more invested in the sport.

Here is why the Olympic Games help the sport.

Widespread Publicity

In an Olympic year, the attention toward the sport immensely grows. The increasing publicity for the sport begins with Olympic Trials being shown on TV and promotional commercials for the Olympics. Then, swimming’s viewership skyrockets with the onset of the Olympic Games, which routinely feature captivating storylines and close races.

Fast International Swimming

For the diehard swim fan, one of the most exhilarating parts of the Olympics is the ability to watch fast swimming on the international stage. With the Olympics being the biggest international competition for the sport, many athletes yearn for a chance to represent their country. The small size of the Olympic team rosters further increases the honor of being named to the team. To become an Olympian, the best of the best from each country duel against one another for the coveted spots.

Swimmer Spotlights

While swimming tends to not be heavily featured in the media, the Olympics provide swimmers with a platform to showcase their athleticism and their stories. From brief athlete bios to promote the upcoming Olympics to commentators sharing the swimmers’ backgrounds, viewers learn about the sport and its leaders. Whether its watching an introduction about Lilly King and learning about her Crocs collection or listening to Rowdy Gaines share a swimmer’s background as they race, viewers gain a sense of connection to the swimmers.

Additionally, swimmers with unique and fascinating stories can further promote the sport. A great example is the full circle moment of Katie Ledecky going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with Katie Grimes in the 800-meter freestyle. Ledecky was only 15 when she made her first Olympic team and now she can share her experience with another 15-year-old. This story is not only heartwarming but introduces the next generation to follow.

A Boost for Swim Clubs

Sitting in front of the television watching the best swimmers in the world captivates the audience and inspires some youngsters to pursue their goals. Each time the Olympics come around, local club teams get excited because many children feel the desire to start competitively swimming. Watching Olympians on TV makes a young swimmer want to be the next big star. Dreaming of being the next Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Caeleb Dressel and more helps to inspire future generations.

Promotion of Learning to Swim

On a more basic level, watching the Olympic swimmers race to their full potential reminds the viewers at home of the importance of learning to swim. In addition, commercials for some of the professional swimmers’ swim schools and from USA Swimming emphasize the importance of learning to swim. According to the CDC, “every year in the U.S. there are an estimated 3,960 fatal unintentional drownings, including boating-related drowning. That is an average of 11 drowning deaths per day.” With this statistic in mind, all advertising for swim lessons is vital. The Olympics provide a great opportunity to share with a wide audience the importance of learning to swim. Not everyone needs to be a competitive swimmer, but they should learn how to swim to prevent drowning.

An Olympic year is upon us and with that comes well-earned attention toward the sport. With swimmers from all over the world competing at the highest level, nail-biting races ensue. While the Olympians live out their dreams, the sport grows from increased publicity, gaining new members, and demonstrating how much fun swimming can be.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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