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US youth swimming bothered by low funs, neglection

07-25-2012 17:23 BJT Special Report:2012 London Olympic Games |

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The Olympic dream is fuelled by the passion of young people whose unwavering dedication to their sport may eventually lead to a chance at Olympic gold. But behind the dream of glory lies a long and unpredictable path.

In many countries, it’s supported by governments who want to showcase the best of their nations’ young talent. But not so in the United States, where the federal government has no formal role.

Tonle’ Bloomer is fourteen. He’s spent at least a year training to swim the first 15 meters of the pool under the surface, hoping to emulate the speed and technique of his idol, 14 times Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.

He knows it will require incredible dedication to reach an Olympic standard, stroke by stroke, length by length, day-in, day-out.

Tonle' Bloomer, a 14-year-old swimmer, said, "I’m extremely competitive, and I really do like to win and I do like the thrill of the competition, so I want to be up there with the best."

His Olympic dream is shared by many of these young hopefuls training at the East Potomac Pool.

This 50 meter Olympic-sized Washington DC government facility is being used for a four-hour-a-day summer coaching clinic to help raise the skill levels of swimmers of all ages.

Above and below the water, ten year-old Raylen Jackson fixes her eyes on the ultimate prize.

Raylen Jackson, a 10-year-old swimmer, said, "To be in the Olympic Trials and then to make it to the Olympics and win medals, Gold, Silver.. If somebody sees me and they would be like:” WOW, who is this?” And a person would say “Raylen Jackson” and I would be like: “YESSSS!"

Daniel Ryntjes said, “There is a chance that one day one of these young swimmers will reach the Olympic dream but they’ll need a lot of support and commitment from others to get there.”

Including the financial commitment. Unlike many competitive nations, the United States does not provide centralized state-run and state-funded selection, training and development for young athletes.

It relies instead on the dedication of parents who run local clubs which feed into local and regional non-profit structures tied to "US Swim" the national organization.

Parents pay most of the money for the pool hire and the coaches’ pay.

Rodger McCoy, senior coach of DC Wave Swim Team, said, “Swimming is literally an orphan sport.”

Veteran coach Rodger McCoy has been raising the skills of young swimmers for over 30 years. He thinks his beloved sport should get more corporate funding to support young swimmers, but understands why the private sponsors are reluctant to do so.

Rodger McCoy said,“It becomes a sponsorship game when you reach a level of Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte or Natalie Coughlin. But as far as going out and selecting an athlete to choose, you don’t know what this athlete is going to be capable of is the athlete is in a very young age. You might think that he will develop along this route, but he might not. It’s not a sure thing, and essentially it’s a Parent-Athlete-Coach triumvirate that we’re working with.”

Coach McCoy also thinks there should be a place for more government funding, especially in tapping and nurturing the talents of the under-privileged.

Rodger McCoy said, “It wouldn’t hurt. Ha ha ha. No, State support wouldn’t hurt, any money that we could get wouldn’t hurt, anything that would help someone to be able to afford it who can’t afford it: yes, that would definitely help.”

But the reality in the US right now is that the success of future Olympians in sports like swimming - which aren’t supported by massive commercial interest - is almost entirely built around the commitment of dedicated parents.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: CNTV.CN

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