And just like that, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has 3 new events but, unfortunately, they don’t include the 50’s of stroke.
Rather, the IOC decided to add:
Men’s 800 Free
Women’s 1500 Free
Mixed 400 Medley Relay
The sexist fact that Men and Women swam different distances was silly and antiquated but I didn’t expect them to add the Men’s 800. Instead, I thought they would simply swamp the Women’s 800 for the Women’s 1500. This is a huge victory for distance swimmers but just another event for the billion or so “normal” people that watch swimming every four years. It will not foster the growth of professional swimming, either. Not like adding the 50’s of stroke would have.
FINA had/has been pushing the IOC to add the 50’s of stroke, something the billion or so “normal” people would actually enjoy tuning into and that advertisers couldn’t interrupt. The best thing for the sport, without a shadow of a doubt, is to have added the 50’s of stroke.
Some of the sports biggest superstars got into a fun conversation after Rowdy Gaines said this…
Needless to say, David Plummer wasn’t too thrilled with Rowdy’s initial remarks, telling him to be sure to mention this to Anthony Ervin…opening the doors for the two time FASTEST MAN IN THE WORLD to interject. Tom Shields jumped in on the action, too.
Anyways, we digress.
Nobody is more thrilled about the inclusion of the Women’s 1500 more than Katie Ledecky, the greatest distance swimmer of all time. She will now be able to stack her Gold faster on her path to becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Adding the first mixed event is actually quite exciting because it’s fun and innovative. Name another sport where Men and Women compete against one another. Though, again, this won’t extend careers or create more opportunity.
If you swim the 50 Free, be sure to count your lucky stars.