Over the last couple days I've had a chat with Swimswam's chief editor Braden Keith. I urged him to bring more coverage to the great problem we are confronting in swimming and the greater world right now.
He offered me the opportunity to do an interview, and sent me some questions over e-mail. I have responded in kind, so I hope that my answers will appear on Swimswam's site soon.
I won't rewrite all the answers I gave here, but I want to give a little preview and also provide context for how I came up with the answers I gave.
I love the sport of swimming. It's a bit of a tortured relationship, to be sure. I've had some of the best experiences of my life, and some of the worst in it.
I think swimming needs dramatic change, that change will be very hard. I think it's worth it, however. Not just for stopping the terrible, abusive, horrible things from happening to people. Reimagining sport around the experience and well-being of people doing also offers the chance for a lot more good things to happen.
If performance follows, that will be a nice side effect. It likely will, but that doesn't matter.
One of the reasons I have railed against some of the "old boys" of swimming is that they stand so firmly in the way of change. They pollute the waters. They've had their chance and messed it up royally for all of us, and the longer they stay around the harder change is going to be.
Finally, the answers I provided to Swimswam came from discussions with a lot of people who are not "inside" sports, or even swimming. Or "swimming" people who have been cast aside for having the audacity to be abused and then speak about it. I'm doing my best to channel some of these unheard voices and listen to the ideas they've generously given to me.
I know I do not have all the answers, but I am looking for them and as we move forward I hope the knowledge sharing will only beget further knowledge sharing in this fight. In fact, I know it already has and in the coming weeks and months I'll be highlighting some of the efforts I've seen out there to really critically reimagine how swimming is structured.