Did you watch the Summer Olympic Games in Rio? You may not have watched as much as I did but I bet you caught at least a bit of the “show?” After watching the Games, one thing is for sure, Americans love swimming. I felt it more this year than in years past. Even Ryan Lochte, who has become a household name for the wrong reasons, had Americans mesmerized by the amount of coverage his actions commanded. And trust me, if the coverage was good, it was because America was watching. I mean, forget that he has won 12 Olympic medals, only second to MP, he urinated in bushes and tore down a poster at a gas station and “over-exaggerated” his story which made his media value go through the roof! At the core, the media attention may have been bad for him but it was great for swimming.
This year, participation in organized swimming will top 500,000 swimmers. Let’s talk storylines and why Americans are turning to swimming, now more than ever.
- Michael Phelps: Let’s get one thing straight, none of us are like Michael Phelps. Although this may be evident in that none of us have 23 Olympic gold medals there is one very telling reason that we may never see someone dominate the sport like he did (past tense because yes, he is “retired”). It has been said that Marfan Syndrome may also helped in his success, we will never know. But look at the picture below, there is one thing that separates him from his swim buddies. Look at the difference in where his belt line is in comparison to other Rio Olympians. Crazy huh? His legs are fit for someone who is 5’9.
- Simone Manuel: I predict that she does for swimming what the William’s sister’s have done for tennis or what Tiger Woods has done for golf. Simply put, Simone Manuel will go down as a trailblazer and will motivate kids in future generations to take up the sport of swimming and want to be like Simone Manuel. If you didn’t know, Simone Manuel won the 100M Freestyle at the Olympics and shocked a field of favorites in the process. Simone also goes to Stanford. There is no need to turn pro now but when she does, look out.
- Anthony Ervin: How about one for the old guys! Anthony Ervin is a man amongst boys. Literally. He is 35 years old, won his first Olympic gold medal as a 19-year old when competing at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, went dark for about 10 years and reemerged as a contender in 2010. Participated at the 2012 Olympics where he ended up 5th because of a slow start off of the blocks. This year, he fixed the start and guess what, he won. To read his just published book, which I encourage you to do, pick up a copy HERE.
- Katie Ledecky: For those of us from my generation, the name Janet Evans may ring a bell. She was known as the distance swimming queen of USA Swimming. Well, that title has now been passed on to Katie Ledecky who at 19 is a 5x Olympic gold medalist and 9x world champion and currently holds the world record in the 400, 800 and 1500M freestyle events. She is so dominant, that Michael Phelps himself said that he could not beat her in an 800M freestyle.
- Ryan Lochte: At one point in his career, you would mention Phelps and people would respond, “oh, the guy who smokes marijuana.” Look, we all make mistakes but time and performance can erase those bad moments. Ryan will bounce back, he will be fine and best of all, he will be stronger than ever when he does come back. Like Phelps, Ryan does not want to end his career like this so if one positive comes of this is that he will continue to entertain us in the pool (and on Dancing with the Stars) for years to come.
When the parents of the five swimmers mentioned above started their journeys by attending swim lessons, I wonder if any of them knew that one day, their children would change the way people view the sport of swimming. Each of the swimmers mentioned above have made an impact on the sport and I know that many of the students in our lessons will do the same. Learning to swim opens so many doors and so many opportunities. The time is now, the place is Evolution Swim Academy.
Have a great month and remember that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. If you are so inclined, do good by reaching out to an organization that spends their time and resources bringing Joy to children with this awful disease. To learn more about the Jessie Rees Foundation, please click HERE.