“Athletes” Come in all Shapes and Sports

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"Athletes" Come in all Shapes and SizesWhen you think about swimmers, does the word “athlete” come to your mind? 

Well from my experience, swimmers are often seen, much like the cheerleaders and rhythmic gymnasts, as participants in things that are not actually sports. I think this is a common misconception because people don’t understand how hard swimming can actually be.

I saw this first hand in my first year as a college athlete. I met a lot of athletes on campus at orientation my first day on campus. I made introductions and told everyone I was on the swim team. One soccer player came up to my and asked me, “What do you guys do for practice? Do you just play around in the pool? I love doing that over the summer at public pools,”

I didn’t know how to respond to this at first. I wanted to say a sarcastic remark and walk away, but instead I replied, “No actually we swim for 4 hours a day and do about 7,000 yards each practice. I swim the IM events, so I swim every stroke at every practice. It is really hard but rewarding at the same time.”

The soccer player then said, “I had no idea how much work went into swimming. You guys are real athletes.”

This conversation made me see, for the first time, how other athletes saw swimmers, and it wasn’t how I wanted to be seen at all. I thought about how to change this perception, and came up with a few ways. Since I am a marketing major I though about how with a little marketing magic, this false perceptions could disappear.

Three ways marketing can rectify the “non-athletic” reputation swimmers have:

  1. Publicity: USA swimming is the national swimming league, much like the NFL and the NBA. If some swimming highlights were featured on ESPN’s Sport Center Top 10 maybe more people would be willing to give the sport a chance. After all swimming can have some exciting moments, as I illustrated in my last blog post. Its not all rubber duckies and inner tubes!
  2. Nationally Recognized Sponsorships of Swim Meets: The only swim meet that is really is publicized on national TV, and sponsored by a company that is known around the world, is the Olympic Games. If swim meets, especially the ones that have Olympic gold medalists participating, could get nationally recognized companies to sponsor them, like Gatorade or Sports Authority for example, maybe they could get more sports channels to televise these events. This could increase the reach of swimming to the people who normally watch these sports networks. Who knows, maybe they will find these swim meets more interesting then football games!
  3. More Spokespeople: As of right now, the only brands that feature professional swimmers is Speedo; oh, and Michael Phelps is sometimes in Subway commercials. If you count the number of NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL players that are the spokespeople for various brands, you will get a headache from doing so much math. If more professional swimmers were featured as the spokespeople for these large brands, the reach of swimming will increase exponentially. Why can’t Ryan Lochte be the next Fruit of the Loom guy? Move over Michael Jordan, Ryan Lochte looks just as good shirtless!

Call-to-Action: 

The next time you come across an athlete that participates in a sport that you don’t understand, before you judge it, get to know the sport. Stop and think what a little marketing could do to take it to the next level. Who knows, one day swimming could have an event that has companies paying millions of dollars for a 30 second commercial just like the Super Bowl.

Image Credit: photo by tom@hk on Flickr

7 Reasons Swimming can be an Exciting Sport to Watch

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 7 Reasons Swimming can be an Exciting Sport to Watch

Have you ever watched a sport on TV or in person and thought “this is the most boring sport ever?” 

Well if you’ve ever had the above experience, chances are you were at a swim meet. Swimming is not one of those sports like football or hockey that people will pay a bunch of money to see. It is not somewhere people go to for entertainment. It is one of those sports that people go to because they have to; that is the image that swim meets have always been given anyway. Although sometimes true, this image is not the only way swim meets can be seen.

For as long as I can remember, I have been watching swim meets, participating in swim meets, working at swim meets, and anything else you can imagine doing at swim meets. Almost every single swim meet I’ve been to has fit into this stereotype of being boring. There have been a select few, however, that have been some of the most exciting sporting events that I have ever been to.

Here are 7 reasons swimming can be exciting to watch:  

  1. Come from behind wins. Swimming is one of those sports where anything can happen. You can dive in the water a bod length behind and still come out on the top of the podium. The best example of this would have to be this relay from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic games: Men’s 400 Freestyle Relay.
  2. Iconic athletes. In the history of the Olympics, the two athletes who have won the most gold medals at one Olympics have both been swimmers. Mark Spits won 7 gold medals in 1972 making him the second most decorated Olympic swimmer, and Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in 2008 making him the most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time.
  3. Nail biters. Swimming has had some of the most exciting finishes in sports history. They can sometimes come down to .01 of a second. The most famous example of this would be Michael Phelps in the 100 yard butterfly at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
  4. Women matter too. In the sport of swimming, women’s races can be just as exciting as men’s races. In fact, Colorado’s own Missy Franklin is one of the best Olympic swimmers, men or women, in recent history. This makes it different from sports like football and baseball where men are the only ones who play.
  5. Title of the fastest human in the pool. The 50 meter freestyle is the shortest race in swimming. It lasts a little under 20 seconds, and is the most exciting race to watch. It has had the most ties in the history of the sport, and takes a special type of swimmer to be able to do really well. Sprinters are a rare breed, but they are the fastest in the sport.
  6. Dedication shines bright. Swimming requires a lot of dedication. When you see a really good race, you can see that specific swimmer embodying that dedication with everything they do. From their start, to their finish, and everything in between, they are dedicated to being the best they can be. For those athletes, each race means more to them than anything they will ever do in their lives.
  7. Olympic moments. Swimming is the most popular sport to watch at the summer Olympic Games. The Olympic Games can transform a nobody in to a somebody with just one race. Swimming has had more of those Olympic moments in recent history than only other sport. Olympic moments make role models for America’s youth. It is swimming’s biggest stage, and it’s most exciting.

Call to Action

These are only seven reasons swimming can be exciting. There are so many examples of races and athletes in Olympic history that make this point further. If you have never been to a swim meet, I encourage you to go. If you have been to a swim meet, I encourage you to continue to go to bigger and bigger meets; the bigger the stage the more exciting the races. You never know when a race will make history, and you could have a front row to that history. Don’t give up on swimming just because it is boring, because as I just proved, one meet can be filled with some of the best moments in sports history.

For more on my experience as a swimmer, please read my last post, Advice From the Head of a Division 1 Swimmer.

Image Credit: photo by Gainline.us on Google Images

Advice From the Head of a Division 1 Collegiate Swimmer

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From the Head of a Division 1 Collegiate Swimmer Have you ever done something for such a long time that you are sort of lost when it is over?

That very feeling is the point I am at in my life right now. I have been defined as a competitive swimmer for the last 14 years. I started when I was 7 years old and just finished my college career this year at the age or 21. Swimming is something that as always been a constant in my life. Now that it is no longer in my life, I have had the time to look back on my four years as a collegiate athlete, and must say I gained a lot of perspective on what it means to perform at that level.

Before writing this post, I took some inspiration from Olivier Poirier-Leroy’s blog on Swim-Swam. It made me very nostalgic, especially since my swimming career is still fresh in my memory.

I have done many things in my short life so far, but my swimming career is the thing that I feel the most proud to say I accomplished. I would like to share three of the important lessons that I learned from my college career as an athlete.

1. Make sure you love the sport you do. If you choose to participate in college sport that you no longer have passion for, or no longer like doing, it is going to be a long four years. You will end up resenting the sport that you came to college to do in the first place. Then one day you will want to quit, and you will end your career on a sour note.

2. Do it for you, and no one else. I don’t know what it is like to participate in a team sport, but in my experience, I always seemed to perform better when I swam for myself and not to make anyone else happy. I that that same thing applies to every sport; if you take all the nerves and need to impress people out of the equation and just do it because it makes you happy, you will be able to perform much better than you ever imagined.

3. Make time for other thing besides practice. If all you do all the time is your sport, you will get burnt out and will begin to resent the sport that you fell in love with all those years ago. Make sure you have a balance between your athletics life and your social life. Now don’t party too hard and let your social life interfere with your performance, because that is now good either, but finding the healthy balance will allow you to be able to blow off some steam on your days off.

Take Away

These are the three things that I came to realize throughout my four years as a college athlete. Some of them were hard lessons, but some of them were easy for me to learn. I hope that this advise can help you, as future athletes, make your college experience one that will stay with you for the rest of their life. Start those memories today at practice. Live everyday like it is the last day of your college career.

Image Credit: photo by Chicago Smelts on Google Images