If you have not been paying attention to the world scene in swimming let me catch you up on the controversy that should not exist.
Swimming is not yet a support with a robust professional presence. It is hard for any without sponsorship to make a legitimate living. While Michael Phelps is worth an estimated $55M he is the stand out. Women’s swimming superstar Missy Franklin, with her career in its twilight is only worth $3.2M, and most of that is from her endorsement deal with Speedo. Compare that to top basketball star Michael Jordan who is worth $1.9B, yes billion dollars.
Now don’t get me wrong, no one needs $1.9B to be financially comfortable. And swimming is a long way from that status.
So, what is the controversy? In a nut shell FINA won’t give a sanction to a meet hosted by the Italian Federation. While the refusal seems based on obscure and unfair interpretation that is not my beef. They can grant sanctions, or not as they see fit. The problem comes from the fact that FINA has threaten to suspend swimmers who participate in this big (for swimming) money event. Suspensions of no less, than one year, and no more than two years would effectively stop any swimmer from participating in the 2020 Olympics.
While my two-cents does not go far, I feel compelled to speak up. FINA has no right to tell swimmers where they can and cannot swim. Meet sanctions should be about records, and maintaining the integrity of those records, not about eligibility. As a professional, swimmers should be free to choose to participate as they see fit, not limiting their options based on threats of the international governing body.