Written by: Marcie Bianco, August 16, 2016. Quartz.
For approximately ten days every four years swimmers are given a global audience. US swimmers in particular tend to shine in the Olympics’ spotlight. This year alone, US swimmers garnered a whopping 16 gold medals, with 33 medals overall—to put that in perspective, Australia won the second-most gold medals, three, with a medal count of 10 overall. The indomitable Katie Ledecky. The barrier-breaking Simone Manuel. The history-making Michael Phelps. These are just a handful of American swimmers that helped the sport, along with women’s gymnastics, drive television ratings during the first week of this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
Yet the significance of swimming, both as an Olympic sport and as a source of national pride, seems at odds with the treatment of the sport in America. Outside the Olympics, swimming is almost never mentioned in the media, which reflects the more pointed fact that swimming is given far less institutional support than other sports, particularly at the collegiate level. This is particularly unfortunate given that Olympic glory aside, swimming is arguably one of the best sports for exercising both your mind and your body. So why don’t we treat it as such?