Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be as good at football (soccer) as you are in the pool? How much money do you think you would earn?
If you swim at a national level then probably a fair bit (if you were a footballer at the same level). That is without even being at the top! As a swimmer it can be quite depressing looking at how much footballers can potentially earn. After all we spend hours and hours in the pool pushing our bodies to the absolute edge. So surely we deserve it? Right?
So is there any money in competitive swimming?
Well yes, sort of. At the top level you can potentially earn the big bucks. For example at the FINA World Cup there is very large prize pot and some of the better swimmers can take home a tidy 6 figures over the course of the competition. The overall men’s and women’s winners take home $150,000 each, runners-up $100,000 and third place $50,000. There are 8 competitions in total each swam over two days. So for 16 days work those prizes are very nice indeed! There are also multiple other international events over the year held in various parts of the world such as the Mare Nostrum series which have large prize funds available to the winners and bonuses for world record swims.
There are also sponsorships you can obtain with various other sports companies. These however, are only awarded to the elite few.
Is it achievable to earn big in swimming?
Probably not. As shown above, the money is only really won by the top 3 in each event or rewarded for world record swims. Therefore if you happen to miss out by what can be very small margins, you get very little and have to survive on the small amount awarded by the national governing body for their different performance pathways. That is of course if you are lucky enough to receive this type of funding in the first place.
All in all there is money in the sport if you are at the very top level (winning and breaking world records). But this seems unfair when compared with the likes of football where the amount of money paid each week can be well into the 6 figures!
Why is there so much money in other sports such as football?
The answer is simple. TV coverage and a lot of fans worldwide to watch it. Because football has so much exposure, advertisers are willing to pay ludicrous amounts of money to have their logo in the background or on the shirts. The television companies also pay large amounts of money for the rights to show the matches.
So how can we get more money into the sport?
Swimming (as a general) is one of the top participated sports in the world. As a specific example in the UK, swimming was well ahead of football in participation numbers week on week.
We have the numbers at the development stages of the sport but need to retain people into the senior levels in the sport. One way to achieve this would be to change training styles and add more fun, entertaining formats of competitions. This would make it more entertaining to watch and lead to more attention outside of the Olympics.
To change the format of competitions you could introduce an intense team competition period (say September - December) with more relays and fast short swims. This would mean that the competitions would be more fast paced and more watchable and entertaining. Alongside this you would need to engage the audience watching, therefore the importance of a good commentator to entertain the crowd and generate more excitement is paramount. This mixed with good, measurable stats that the audience can follow, such as fly kicks off the wall, stroke rates and stroke counts per length would help to make the sport more entertaining to watch and more immersive.
We have suggested one of our many ideas above to make the sport more entertaining and generate more money. If you have any ideas, comment below or in the posts on our social media. Here at Tiide we love to hear your ideas!