Australian swimmers have received a boost on the eve of leaving for the London 2012 Olympic Games: win a gold medal and get an Aus$35,000 bonus, while a relay gold will see $60,000 shared by any who race in heats or finals.
The federation statement:
"Swimming Australia has today announced a new High Performance Model for athlete funding and support which will see medallists rewarded, world rankings acknowledged, and a Youth Support structure put in place for our next generation of stars.
Today, all members of the Australian Swim Team for the London Olympics received an initial share of more than $750,000 to assist in their final preparations for the Games, while the new arrangements will see financial and training support go to more athletes than the ever before.
In addition to this initial payment, athletes will be eligible to earn financial performance bonuses based on their medal and finals achievements in London, with an individual gold medal worth $35,000, and a relay gold medal valued at $60,000, to be shared across both heats and finals swimmers.
Funding for this model is only possible through commercial revenue generated by Swimming Australia via sponsorship and broadcast rights, as a result of the success and high profile of our Australian Swimmers.
Swimming Australia President David Urquhart said the funding and support model is crucial to maintaining and improving on our success in the pool, and the key to that success is rewarding those athletes who perform on the world stage.
“Our previous model was based around national rankings, as opposed to world rankings and international performance, and similar to what cricket has gone through recently, we need to put our limited resources towards aiming for international success,” said Urquhart.
“It’s a clear vision of the organisation to be the world’s leading swimming nation by 2016 and to achieve that goal we need to make decisions in the best interest of performance, by rewarding those who are successful on the world stage.”
“At the youth level, we also need to capture athletes who are world ranked for their age and nurture their development as best we can.”
World Champion in the 100m freestyle James Magnussen, who stands to benefit from the new funding model, says incentives are irrelevant in his mind when it comes to Olympic medals, yet support for world rankings makes sense.
“Olympic medals are something you grow up dreaming about, long before you think you might be able to make a living out of sport,” said Magnussen.
“In all honesty my incentives for success in London are personal and in no way financial, but I see merit in rewarding success at international meets, especially if as a team we aim to return to the top of world swimming.”
Triple Olympic gold medallist from Beijing Stephanie Rice said the new model is the right move to see athletes strive for international success.
“Our talent pool is much smaller than some of the bigger nations like the US and China, so we have to always aim high and look at what the international benchmarks are,” said Rice.
“We all grew up idolising the Australian Swim Team when they were world-beaters back in the early 2000s and now the challenge for us all is to return to those heights.”
Under the previous model, the maximum a swimmer could earn through the funding allocated by the Australian Swimmers Association was around $30,000.
The New High Performance model, which will be directly funded through Swimming Australia, could see an athlete receive an initial payment of up to $25,000 followed by any medal performance bonus at the benchmark meet.