Here you go, my gmm holiday gift to all the social-networkers who have supported swimming this year:
Now that I have your attention, I want to thank you all for your support of my life-defining sport.
When I swam, no one paid much attention, except at the Olympics, and even then it was only for the proverbial fifteen minutes. This year more than two billion tuned in to see Michael Phelps, and supporting stars like Lochte (aka Reezy), Aaron Peirsol, Matt Grevers, Katie Hoff, Dara Torres, Natalie Couglin and Cullen Jones. It confirmed something I already knew. Billions swim. Billions go to the beach. Billions understand the appeal of good health through swimming and its rewards, aka "The Swimmer Body," illustrated perfectly by Ryan Lochte.
Conservatively, more than 180 million people swim 3 times a week on the planet. Our numbers are huge. In terms of media-attention, I hope the interest in swimming will hold, but I'm positive it can and will with the support of bloggers and social-networkers around the globe.
I've been asking since August how to make the most of this "tiger-by-tail" situation. I've gotten great feedback, and I've passed it along to the powers that be inside of USA Swimming.
A CONFESSION: I used to be indifferent about my Olympic Governing Body. (FYI: swimming, track n field, and gymnastics operate under the US Olympic Committee). When I swam I was convinced they did absolutely nothing. This year I worked for the USA Swimming Foundation (raising money for "learn to swim" programs), which gave me a peek inside the hallowed halls of power. What I saw surprised me. They work nonstop. They're forward thinking, always looking for opportunities to marketing swimming.
ON DECK FOR 2009: USA Swimming is already prepping for Olympic Trials in 2012! Golden Goggles ended mere weeks ago, and they've already met in LA to set up the '09 gala weekend. And unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know NBC Sports will be broadcasting World Championships in Rome.
Rumors have been flying about a pro-swimming circuit. What I've learned is that USA Swimming intends to beef up the Grand Prix Series. What that amounts to is creating a series of competitions that are more audience and media friendly. Old ideas about the long three-hour finals-format may change. The old guard is listening! They know we need a new schedule to better present our stars in swimming.
I will be on deck all year, and I will continue to follow stories that entertain. (I'm particularly interested in a new star, Dagney Knutson, from America's northern plain.) I'll also be doingON THE ROAD, a show with my partner, Christopher LaBianco. Chris, or LaBi, is the Chief of the Swim Foundation, and he's all about everything swimming.
I know Lochte's about to blow-up with his PR company PMK. I know Matt Grevers, Christine Magnuson, Gary Hall Jr., and many other star swimmers under David Arluck's banner, Arluck Promotions, will be tackling social-media in '09 brilliantly. (More news on that in February.)
David Arluck, the uber Olympic agent based in Miami, has surprised many this year. He continually creates marketing platforms for his athletes with a socially conscious background.
Evan Morgenstein, based in Raleigh NC, reps almost everyone else, and I know he's always booking his swimmers on NBC prime-time shows and other media-outlets. Evan reps Cullen Jones, one of swimming's greatest assets. There are rumors about a major news network's interest in covering him monthly. (More news on that in March.)
For me this holiday season, I'm happier than I've been in 15 years. (I normally get down around December, with the shorter days, but not as much this year.) My daughter, Bay, has been swimming, and my wife, Tif, has been swimming (and I should also mention that she's been supportive of my work all year long). As a couple, with a young daughter, we're happy, but always looking to the future slightly concerned. We hope Bay continues swimming. We hope she benefits from all the positives of the sport. It's helps kids, especially young girls, develop so much confidence and discipline.
In the meantime, while Bay is only 8 years old, still believing in Santa Claus, we'll celebrate her innocence. It goes without saying that I love swimming, but she's my greatest joy of all.
SWIMMING NEWS TODAY, DEC 24TH:
My column GOLD MEDAL MEL: Merry Seasons Greetings just posted on swimnetwork.
US Masters Swimming nets partnership with Blueseventy. In his ongoing march toward making US Masters Swimming a force in the market, Rob Butcher, the executive director, signs a deal with the swimwear company, Blueseventy (considered by many to have the fastest suit on the planet).
Aaron Peirsol, Arluck Promotion, Christine Magnuson, Christopher LaBianco, Dagney Knutson, Dara Torres, David Arluck, Evan Morgenstein, Gary Hall, Gold Medal Mel, Katie Hoff, Matt Grevers, Mel Stewart, Michael Phelps, Natalie Couglin, Olympic Gold Medalist, Olympic Swimming, Ryan Lochte, USA Swimming, USA Swimming Foundation