In a turnaround from a letter sent to USA Swimming Open Water National Team athletes last week, the USA Swimming Board of Directors has voted to provide the funds necessary to send 1 coach for each National Team athlete for FINA Open Water World Cup meets.
This move came after a rules clarification with FINA meant that athletes would have to pay for their own coaches, as FINA rules by the letter require one coach for each athlete at the Open Water World Cup series: the biggest round of in-season elite open water meets on the global schedule.
The primary effect of this decision is taking huge amounts of stress off of the athletes themselves.
The 12 members of the USA Swimming Open Water National Team, which can be seen here, will now be well-represented at these meets, which should lead to better performances and a better overall experience.
A typical Open Water World Cup season has 8 events; if all 12 athletes attended each event, this would result in about a $96,000 commitment (based on the $1,000 per event that USA Swimming already allocates for athlete travel expenses). Based on past participation numbers, the actual figure would be much smaller, though there seems to be a lot of momentum in the American Open Water community to increase participation in these events.
The Board of Directors made a laudable decision that the potential for American open water success is great enough (Haley Anderson won the first American Olympic medal in the discipline this year) to warrant those costs. This should free up a lot of discussion at this weekend’s USA Swimming convention to tackle other initiatives to grow and perfect open water swimming.