A hotly-anticipated day today in British athletics, as UK Sport, the country’s major high-performance funding body, announced their allocations for the new year.
There was a lot of apprehension in the swimming community about the announcement as the lone sport that underperformed their medal goals at the home Olympics in London, but those fears were alleviated when swimming retained some their funding for the next year, getting £21.3 million (approximately $34.5 million). That’s 4th-most, behind only the wildly-successful sports of rowing, cycling, and athletics that were the major players at the Olympics for the Brits.
It is, however, a modest decrease from the £25.1 million ($40.6 million) it received last year despite an overall funding increase of 5% to Olympic sports and 43% to Paralympic sports.
Olympic finalist Andrew Willis said he was not surprised about the cut, but felt that swimming was still being undervalued. “It was obvious that our funding was going to decrease as a result of London but the performance debrief and some great results at the World Championships last week showed that this team and the system behind it isn’t broken.”
The British team at Short Course Worlds won 6 medals, including a gold and European Record from Hannah Miley in the 400 IM.
David Sparkes, the CEO of British Swimming was also not surprised, but took responsibility for it. “Overall we are satisfied with the outcome. While disappointed with the award for swimming, we recognise we need to rebuild confidence that we can deliver medals at Olympic level consistently before we can demand more investment.
“We had a disappointing Olympics in swimming and we now need to focus our energies on driving the cultural change needed moving forward and this will be built around a no compromise approach underpinned by performance management and strong effective leadership.”
Swimming still made out better than some of their counterparts, however. Among the sports that had their funding completely wiped off of the books were basketball, handball, table tennis, wrestling, volleyball (except for the women’s beach team), and the men’s water polo squad. The men’s water polo team went 0-5 in their Olympic tournament, being outscored in those 5 games by score of 77-28.
For sports that totally lost funding, this is a scary time. It could potentially mean the end of those programs at a competitive level altogether.
Among the aquatic disciplines that made out well was synchronized swimming. The squad has been high-performing and highly visible in the last year, and according to BBC Sports received a 26.5% funding increase to around £4.3 million after Olivia Anderson and Jenna Randall final’ed in the duet at the Olympics and the team performance was given 6th-place honors.
UK Sport is responsible for disbursing Government funding and specifically as the distributor of National Lottery grants. UK Sport also governs drug testing of athletes in the UK.