British Swimming confirmed this week that the 2016 British Swimming Championships, which serve as the nation’s primary Olympic Trials, will not be televised.
The 2016 British Swimming Championships are set to take place at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow from April 12th-17th. In an email to SwimSwam from Jo Purkiss, British Swimming’s Event Coordinator, “the British Swimming Championships and British Para International Meet are not being televised but are being live streamed.”
This is a change from the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics, where the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was in the midst of a four-year broadcast deal with British Swimming for the broadcast rights of swimming and aquatic events leading up to Games. That agreement included coverage of the British Gas Swimming Championships, the primary competition which served as Britain’s Olympic Trials for swimming.
In 2012, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the BBC was granted the United Kingdom broadcasting rights to all Winter and Summer Olympic Games through 2020. The deal included rights to television, internet and mobile platforms of the actual Games.
In response to hearing the news of the swimming trials only being live-streamed and not televised, friends and family members of the British swimming community have taken their collective voice to social media. Joy Macnaughton, who is related to a swimmer attending a Scottish University, initiated a petition on the site “38 Degrees”, asking for signatures advocating for British Swimming to reconsider. In a matter of days, the petition has gathered 2,410 signatures, closing in on its goal of 3,000.
“Glasgow is a great venue. British Swimming has more information on the LEN Championships in May than it does Olympic Trials,” says Macnaughton. “The BBC wants to inspire the next generation, and the legacy for London 2012 comes with coverage, too.”
Macnaughton points to the ‘Olympic Legacy’ plan outlined back in 2013 by former London Olympic chairman and now International Association of Athletics Federations President, Lord Sebastian Coe. After the London-hosted Games, Coe identified four key elements of the British Olympic legacy, which included sports participation, volunteering, the economy and regeneration.
Regeneration and sports participation are the two key points petitioners are spotlighting in the description of their online campaign, as reproduced below:
“Why is this important?
Swimming is one of the top attractions at any Olympics
Previous trials have been filmed, including heats
Maintaining a legacy comes with participation
Televising the trials is a perfect way for the public to see the talent before Rio Inspires future talent
Team GB finished 5th at the Kazan World Championships with 7 Golds”
The lack of televised trials is coming at a time when the British Swimming Team saw its most successful World Championship campaign in the program’s history. In 2015 in Kazan, Britain raced away with a total of 9 medals, including 5 golds and 2 world records.
SwimSwam reached out to British Swimming for comment on the petition and has not yet received a response.