Swimming’s Most Influential Figures in the Sport for 2020

(From the December issues of Swimming World Magazine)

Our sport is graced with great people and organizations. As appropriate for this time of year, we want to recognize those (in random order) who are making an impact in aquatics. Thanks to the following for their contributions and inspiration:

Lia Neal, Simone Manuel, Reece Whitley, Cullen Jones and Natalie Hinds

In the face of racial injustice and systemic racism across the country, headlined by the death of George Floyd, leadership was displayed by America’s leading black swimmers. They used their voices to speak out and demand change, with Whitley stating: “Silence in the face of injustice is complicity.”

Allison Schmitt

As she continues to chase a fourth Olympic invitation, Schmitt stayed true to her crusade of educating others about the importance of mental health. She spoke publicly about her battles with depression, and the need for those experiencing mental-health struggles to receive necessary support.

Anthony Ervin

anthony-ervin-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The International Olympic Committee, through its Rule 50, prohibits athletes from making political, religious or racial demonstrations at the Olympic Games. Olympic champion Anthony Ervin said that rule “won’t fly,” and athletes needed to have their voices heard while on the largest platform they will see.

Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)

In a victory for clean sport, the CAS told Chinese Olympic champion Sun Yang—and others unwilling to play by the rules—that their actions will not be tolerated. After Sun engaged in a contentious evening with doping officials, a night which included Sun’s bodyguard breaking a vial of the swimmer’s blood, CAS handed Sun an eight-year ban.

Don Talbot

Don Talbot, AUS 1996 by Darrin Braybrook, Sport the Library (1)

Photo Courtesy: Darrin Braybrook Sport the Library / Swimming World Archive

The legendary Australian coach passed away in early November, leaving behind a grand legacy. Talbot’s death reminded the world of his impact on the sport, as the taskmaster enjoyed success in his homeland, the United States and Canada.

Save Tribe Swimming

The group was formed after William & Mary University announced it was cutting the men’s and women’s swimming programs. Through its fight, STS first convinced the school to bring back women’s swimming and battled on to the point of saving the men’s program, too.

Chris Plumb

Other coaches might get more national credit, but as the coach of Carmel High School and Carmel Swim Club, Plumb produces spectacular talent on a regular basis. This year, his girls’ and boys’ high school programs were honored as Swimming World’s Teams of the Decade, a tribute to their consistency as national powers.

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