In an email sent today to members of the USA Swimming National and Junior National Teams, as well as the National Team coaching staffs, USA Swimming has revealed to it’s highest-achieving members that beginning with the January 18th-20th Grand Prix in Austin, the series will be seeing a whole new level of prize money.
In past years, the winner of the overall series (men and women combined) saw a $20,000 prize. With so many athletes attending only a few Grand Prixs, and often times the series winner declining the money (Missy Franklin, for example), that prize alone has failed to excite swimmers or fans.
USA Swimming, owing the credit in part to a new title sponsorship for the series with Arena (the series hasn’t had a title sponsor the past few years), says that an announcement outlining the exact details of the prize money will come in early January. The sound of it is that the new money will include a more World-Cup like structure, where individual race winners receive prize money.
“…more prize money than ever will apply to every Olympic event and every single Olympic Event race in the Series,” the email reads.
With the backing of television airing on Universal Sports, as well as their new sponsorship arrangement and this announcement, the Grand Prix Series will move to a whole new status in terms of national exposure. The series has been dwindling in enthusiasm, but this should be a huge shot-in-the-arm. One of the reasons why the annual Charlotte UltraSwim edition of this meet had developed into the most watched and well-known of the series is that for a long time, it has given out by far the most prize money (in addition to the amount of production value that was put into the whole event). The rest of the series seems to be headed down that same path.
This increased prize money would fit in with USA Swimming’s tightened qualifying standards this year: a move to produce a more elite-feeling event.
Remaining Meets on the 2012-2013 Grand Prix Schedule
January 18-20, 2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix, Austin, TX – LC
February 15-17, 2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix, Orlando, FL– LC
April 18-20, 2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix, Mesa, AZ – LC
May 9-12, 2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix, Charlotte, NC – LC
May 30-June 2, 2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix, Santa Clara, CA – LC
Full Email from USA Swimming
Dear National Team and National Junior Team Athletes and Coaches,
As many of you hopefully already know, USA Swimming and Arena announced a new, eight-year partnership earlier this week. Arena will be the exclusive sponsor of the U.S. National Team and will also be the title sponsor of the Grand Prix Series. Arena’s sponsorship will help us bring more exposure to these events with all five remaining events to be broadcast on Universal Sports. We also have exiting news to announce in early January regarding prize money on top of the travel assistance currently provided. For now, just know more prize money than ever will apply to every Olympic event and every single Olympic Event race in the Series.
The next Grand Prix meet will be the Austin Grand Prix, January 18-20. We hope that many of you will choose to participate in this meet as it will be the first official meet involving our new partnership.
We’ll follow-up with more information about the new structure the first week of January and we hope to see many of you in Austin!