The 2012 London Games began on Friday July 27th and 1600 athletes gathered in Calgary, Alberta to compete at Canadian Age Group Championships. 1600 athletes; the very level of athlete that Swim Canada (or anyone, for that matter) wants to get excited and inspired by the Olympics. Overall, the meet was pretty well managed and a lot of money was spent to make it look professional; there was an additional "jumbo-tron" rented for advertising... they even used it to show the Opening Ceremonies on Day 1 of the Olympics... but thats where it stopped. Even though the Championship's prelim sessions ran very long (sometimes past 2pm - 6 hour sessions) the meet management did not see if fit to show ANY of the racing on the big screen... but rather, just advertisements.
WHY!!?? Clearly, they had the technology to do it (they showed the Opening Ceremonies earlier in the week). Meet management even met to talk about it and decided not to make it happen. So the question that I need to scream from the rooftops is this: "WHY HOLD A MEET THAT ACTIVELY TAKES THESE SWIMMERS AWAY FROM THE OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE??" It's not like Swim Canada did not know when the Olympic were. Heck, they could have even started the meet a day earlier and minimized the races missed, but they made a decision not to. Maybe it doesn't matter... wait... YES IT DOES... It matters so much to the swimmers, parents, coaches and team mates that helped get those swimmers to that level at meets like this one.
But picture this, if you will... 1600 athletes watching the Olympics together. Getting excited, together. Celebrating, together. Consoling, together. Isn't that what the Olympics experience is all about? Imagine all of the members of the Oakville Aquatic Club (all 55 of them) and all of the swimmers who know Tera Van Beilen, personally, watching her semi-final race AND the rare Olympic Swim-Off to determine the 8th spot in the finals. Imagine all of ESWIM and the swimmers close with Brittany MacLean watching her in her first Olympic Final. Imagine hometown CASCADE going nuts, watching Jill Tyler in her semi-final or PPO watching Charles Francis or Island Swimming watching Julia Wilkinson. This was a massive missed opportunity by Swim Canada and meet management and, I believe, actually jaded the swimmers and coaches. I know that many of them wished that they were somewhere else watching the Olympics and not watching 31 heats of 400FR (12 of them bonus heats, btw).
I understand that its highly unfair to be showing the Olympics on a big screen while people are swimming at prelims as it can be distracting and not make for the ideal prelims atmosphere... but here is what I suggest: STOP THE MEET. Take 10min breaks while the races are happening and encourage people to cheer. Not only would that not be distracting, it would be inspiring. I say it might make for some incredible prelim swims.
I propose this: SNC SHOULD NEVER AGAIN SANCTION A MEET DURING A TELEVISED SWIMMING EVENT or SNC SHOULD ALWAYS MAKE THE VIEWING OF WORLD SWIMMING EVENTS TOP PRIORITY DURING A SWIM MEET, EVEN IF IT MEANS STOPPING THE MEET. Watching swimming on TV is great and can teach a lot. Watching your peers that you played a role in racing, pushing and developing is a great experience. It helps YOU become a part of the Olympics and helps build dreams.
Anyone who agrees, please re-tweet this and share it through social media. If we really want people to enjoy swimming and excel on a world level, we need to use the world connectivity available to us. 4, 8, 12, 16 years ago it was not possible to show the races to everyone. Today it is... lets get with the times. I'm really disappointed in Swim Canada; this was a huge missed opportunity.