If you scoffed when Katinka Hosszu said she wanted to create a professional swimmers’ union, it’s time to reconsider. Today, Hosszu revealed a list of professional swimmers from around the globe that have joined the newly-minted Global Association of Professional Swimmers (GAPS).
GAPS’s goals are seemingly simple: FINA needs to “listen to the voice of the professional swimmers” and allow swimmers to “have a say in important decisions about the future of our sport.” Though recent decisions by FINA suggest athletes have not been consulted regarding decisions that influence their own livelihoods and ability to earn a living in a sport that is notorious for only being famous ‘once-every-four-years.’
Earlier this summer, FINA announced drastic and controversial rule changes to the World Cup circuit that left the international swimming community angry and confused. Hosszu wrote adamantly that she was never consulted when the new rules were proposed. Surprising, since Hosszu is one of the most famous swimmers in the world, and in the post-Phelps era, one of the most profitable athletes in the sport.
In her previous open letter, Hosszu, speaking on FINA’s leadership, said “our leaders seem to think our sport is amateur, therefore we are amateurs, and that is exactly the way they treat us.” Referencing the Association of Professional Tennis Players (ATP) boycott of Wimbledon 1973, Hosszu believes it is time swimmers unified in the same manner to give athletes a more equal share of the profits garnered by FINA and other broadcasters of swimming events.
Joining Hosszu in GAPS are Olympic gold medalists and world record holders from around the globe. Adam Peaty, Sarah Sjostrom, Bronte Campbell and Cate Campbell, Kosuke Hagino, Cameron Van Der Burgh, Marco Koch, Conor Dwyer, Katie Meili, and Lia Neal, among others, have joined Hosszu in GAPS.
With the FINA World Championships beginning in less than three weeks in Hosszu’s very own Hungary, it will be interesting to see what noise the newly-formed GAPS makes during the event, and whether the group can have a voice in the upcoming FINA election set to take place July 22nd.
Below is the list of swimmers that have already joined GAPS, as well as Hosszu’s accompanying open letter.
Jessica Ashwood, Australia
Bronte Campbell, Australia
Cate Campbell, Australia
Madison Wilson, Australia
Pieter Timmers, Belgium
Bruno Fratus, Brazil
Hilary Caldwell, Canada
Pernille Blume, Denmark
Jeanette Ottesen, Denmark
Rikke Pedersen, Denmark
Camille Lacourt, France
Anna Santamans, France
Marco Koch, Germany
James Guy, Great Britain
Adam Peaty, Great Britain
Katinka Hosszu, Hungary
Luca Dotto, Italy
Kosuke Hagino, Japan
Femke Heemskerk, Netherlands
Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Netherlands
Kira Toussaint, Netherlands
Sharon Van Rouwendaal, Netherlands
Ferry Weertman, Netherlands
Michelle Coleman, Sweden
Jennie Johansson, Sweden
Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden
Cameron Van Der Burgh, South Africa
Conor Dwyer, USA
Katie Meili, USA
Lia Neal, USA
Hosszu’s open letter following the announcement of GAPS reads:
“Dear Fellow Swimmers,
Many things can change in sports in a span of two weeks, not only races and championships, but careers as well. In Rio it took roughly a week to award all the medals of the Olympic swimming competition, and the same will happen in the World Championships this year in Budapest.
In the last two weeks I’ve learnt an important lesson: this amount of time could be enough for an entire sport to start heading into a completely new direction. I was hoping that my last letter would have a light bulb effect for many of you, but even I underestimated the rate at which everything would happen. I do not mean the fact that the press would quickly jump on the topic, or that many people who were never interested in swimming will start asking questions about the sport, but I mean the speed and ease at which all of us, the swimmers, have started to come together as one.
As I believed, many of us were on the same page, well aware of the problems of today’s swimming. We had the same way of thinking when it came down to finding solutions to those issues. Even if we had remained silent until now, most of us were not only ready to openly talk about the problems, but ready to act in order to reform the sport of swimming, even if those changes might be against our own personal interests. This whole movement has immediately eliminated many of our dividing lines, with different nationalities, languages, time-zones and cultures all coming together as one.
We are proud to announce that with more than 30 members, including 15 Olympic champions, the Global Association of Professional Swimmers (GAPS) is coming to life today, with its members already representing all the continents of the globe.
Our goal is to have more members and to listen to all of you. GAPS will make it possible for us to jointly represent the interest of the professional swimmers, to have a clear view on what is happening today in the sport of swimming, and to have a chance to influence the future development of our sport.
We now rightfully expect that leaders of FINA will give us a seat at the table. We expect swimmers to be treated as equal partners. We expect that they will sit down and start talking to us. We expect that they will listen to the voice of the professional swimmers and we expect to have a say in important decisions about the future of our sport.
You can join and share your opinion with us on http://professionalswimmers.org. And when the time comes, we will be able to represent the best interests of the entire professional swimming community as one.”