Why You Might Help Them Touch The Wall
Apr 4, 2013 - Craig Lord
Okay, wide world of swimming. Here's the thing: an American outfit (or two blokes, some friends, associates and a lot of good will) called touchthewall.com wants your money. They've raised $46,244 and their target is $110,000.
The money, which must be in the bank by Tuesday April 23 or the whole thing is off, will be used for this: "A feature documentary that follows swimming phenom Missy Franklin and teammate Kara Lynn Joyce as they prepare for the London Olympics."
There are enough of you out there to make it happens: when Missy and her mates were panning for gold in London, we were getting over a million hits a day on this site alone. Lovers of swimming are out their aplenty.
Reasons why you might not want to part with your money? The US is rich enough; if they can't fund it, who can?'; USA Swimming is rich enough; if they can't help fund it, who can?; Missy Franklin turned down hundreds of thousands so she could go to college; the US has never been able to put together a good system of trust funds that can be stored for post-college years but stay 'clean' under NCAA rules; one small cheque from Beckham and his bunch in between kicking balls about and making sure their hair looks nice for the cameras would do it. And so on and so forth.
So why should you put your hand in your pocket, why care? It is, of course, a personal choice and this particular one comes at a time when it is hard to ask the vast majority of swimming folk who have, well, not very much (at a time of crunch), to give to a cause that features a star swimmer with the potential to be extremely rich in a season not many summers off.
On the other hand, if many gave a tiny amount, touchthewall's project gets off the ground - and the sport of swimming gains, the wave grows, the ripples roll.
Lore, culture, dedication, determination, discipline: the stuff of great sport, compelling entertainment and the chance to celebrate the spirit of youth and achievement of the kind that leaves the z-list celebrity cult of fame-and-money-for-nothing well back in the deep drain where it belongs.
Swimming is a great sport on many levels, not least of all the quality of the folk who pass through the media mixed zone and, on the whole, serve as fine ambassadors for themselves, their families, coaches, programmes and sport as a whole and role models for many more.
If you have ever had the privilege of wandering through the International Hall of Swimming Fame in Fort Lauderdale (if you've never passed that way, add Florida and the Hall on to your list of places to go before you die), you will probably appreciate the importance, the thrill, the context and meaning of all that has gone before those of us lucky enough to have lived at a time of Spitz to Phelps, Gould to Franklin, their guardians, goals, golds and greatness galore.
The bedrock at the bottom of an ocean deep in history is there for each passing generation to build on. Archiving and documenting the journeys of Franklin (along with Ryan Lochte, Dana Vollmer and Nathan Adrian in action at the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa, April 11-13), Joyce and others not only serves those of us who will line up to watch what touchthewall managed to capture but has all the hallmarks of work that will be treasured by those who follow us, for generations to come.
Imagine: they could be talking about how it all came about as they watch the first sub 50sec 100m free for women at the 2092 Games in Stockholm or London once more, the love of the sport as solid as an Abba melody, as moving as Floyd in full flow.
Up to you, of course, and it shouldn't be any other way. But if you can give a dollar, if you can look beyond the reasons not to give a dollar, then do it, make a pledge, be a part of it. You will have played a positive note in the big orchestra it takes to make a lasting difference - and that's the best any of us can ever do.