What If Windsor Held A Swim Meet And No One Came?


Tuomi-HeaderWorld interest in swimming continues to decline. Despite this, Windsor will spend some $16 million of taxpayer dollars to host a short-course championship for FINA; a rich foreign swimming outfit.

In the August 14 issue of Variety magazine, Cynthia Littleton talked of television viewership of last summer’s Rio Olympics being less than the 2012 London Olympics, even with Michael Phelps participating.

Littleton wrote, “… audience delivery rating encompassing NBC, cable and streaming viewing, reached 26.8 million for Saturday, which was still down from the comparable night at the 2012 London Olympics (28 million).”

With less viewers, broadcaster NBC, as Sports Illustrated reported August 22, delivered, “… some make-goods to advertisers because it performed below ratings expectations.”

Windsor, as The Square has reported, will have only a few of the stars of Rio and will run its championship without many of the big names. This may discourage spectators and could thwart the city’s hopes of raising $3.5 million in advertising and ticket sales.

If the city misses its target it will need to spend more taxpayer money to make up for any shortfall.

Indications of its making big bucks are not good. Reportedly, tickets are still available. To keep the arena looking packed, the city has taken the drastic measure of giving away free entry to Grade 6 students.

As to advertising, with the declining audience of the Olympics, advertisers can be expected to have reservations about showering Windsor with money.

Swimming is also not a sport that draws spectacular viewing audiences. The manager of Windsor’s event, British resident Peter Knowles, has admitted swimming is not much of a spectator sport, at least for the television generation.

Knowles ran the event in 2008 when it was held in Manchester, England.

In a PowerPoint overview of his experience with FINA, entitled View of Aquatics from A Host City, he confirmed swimming competitions struggle, “… to command significant media interest in the UK and many countries. Like many ‘traditional’ sports, aquatics is losing out to activities with more youthful, ‘edgy’ appeal.”

Things haven’t changed over the past eight years.

In an October 17 report, Rio Olympics medal winner Adam Peaty told Swimming World Magazine no one cares, “… about short course in Britain.” He added a rather interesting observation, saying there is, “… no coverage of it.”

This might be a factor in an expected shortage of reporters covering the event.

Swim Vortex’s Craig Lord, along with many others, did not attend last year’s FINA Tokyo World Cup. Lord, who also writes for two London, England, newspapers, The Times and Sunday Times, reported his papers no longer agree swimming, “… merits spending money on to cover live.”

Windsor should have examined all of these issues before committing to spend so much taxpayer money.

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About the Author

Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi