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My non-workout blog and random thoughts

Is Swimming Recession Proof?

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Competitive swimming is a upper middle class sport. It is much more expensive to construct, maintain and operate an aquatic facility than the facilities required for other sports - softball, basketball, tennis and football. Perhaps NASCAR or golf facilities are more expensive in terms of construction and operation costs, but swimming is right up there.

We are getting ready to go to the Long Beach Grunion meet in December and the cost of travel has clearly increased. We are looking at significant increases in airfare, rental car, hotel, meals, parking, gas and entry fees (which has not increased thank goodness!). Although I complain about travel related costs, other important groups are also faced with the same or greater cost increases. Age group swimmers and their families face significantly greater travel related costs to participate in regional or state competitions. High school and college teams may face budget cuts. I heard (NPR) that Philadelphia is planning to close public pools until the financial situation improves.


Many, many years ago, I worked on a research project that investigated the economic impact of an major oil spill on tourism in the Galveston area. We used something called a Leontif matrix to assess the impact of decreased tourism on various sectors of the area's economy. For example, if fewer tourists decide to vacation, the hotels suffer a direct impact. But the businesses that support the hotel - food supply, travel services, Jose's Tacos all are effected in a secondary and tetriary effects. I didn't think about it at the time, but there is a time dimension to the matrix - the economic impacts probably ripple through related business (and time) much like dropping a pebble into a glassy pool.

If the global economy does go into a recession, I guess that it will have an effect on the upcoming FINA games in Norway(?) and may affect participation in our regional and national events.

The big question is "how will the recession affect your ability to swim (for exercise and for sport)?" Will your pool costs increase or will the availability (in terms of hours) be reduced - or both.

I expect that the global recession will have secondary and tertiary impacts and that we, as swimmers, will be affected.

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  1. tjrpatt's Avatar
    I feel bad for the age group swimmers that are not from upper middle class families today. It was a struggle for me to get to practice when I was in high school and that was in the middle 1990s. I didn't have my own car like almost everyone at my age group club. I wouldn't be able to afford the gas prices today to get to practice unless I was living in VA Beach. Not to mention the price for some of these swimsuits today.
  2. coach's pet 1's Avatar
    Hi Phillip-

    Thanks for the blog. I've always enjoyed your take on this sport that we love. I will not make it to Long Beach this year(family stuff), but hope to see you in Clovis.

    John Morales