The appearances are part of the USA Swimming Athlete Partnership Agreement signed by 33 of the world's top swimmers in January. Each athlete will make two community appearances in 2011. While members of the U.S. National Team make community appearances around the country, they will continue to train in the pool for the international events taking place later this year. The biggest international meet this year is the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China. U.S. swimmers will also compete at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China in August and the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in October.
"We are so fortunate to have swimmers who are willing, positive role models for today's youth," said Matt Farrell, USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer. "Having these individuals out in the community as excitement mounts for the 2012 Olympic Games is something that stands to both benefit the members of USA Swimming and help grow the sport as a whole."
"You've got to give back to the kids," said two-time Swimming Olympian Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) "It is very important for all Olympians to serve as positive role models. I remember how I used to look up to Olympians and other athletes, and I want to be the type of athlete who can positively impact young swimmers to be the best they can be in and out of the water."
"It's really nice to get out in the community and see kids so excited about swimming and competing," said Olympic gold medal swimmer Jason Lezak (Irvine, Calif.). "It really helps motivate me to perform at my best, knowing that I can help encourage a new generation of kids to take part in something healthy and positive."
With the 2011 year already underway, some of the upcoming scheduled appearances by National Team members include:
- Madison Kennedy (Avon, Conn.) will give a speech about her journey at the National Drowning Prevention Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 14-15.
- On May 8, Olympic gold medalist Mark Gangloff (Akron, Ohio) will jump in the water in his hometown of Akron, Ohio as he'll participate in the Make A Splash clinic that aims to teach kids how to swim.
- Seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard (Irvine, Calif.) and two-time Olympic medalist Christine Magnuson (Tinley Park, Ill.) will appear at the Western Zone Select Camp in Tempe, Ariz., May 19-20. The clinic will consist of 56 athletes and Beard will talk about setting goals and her personal success while Magnuson will get in the water with the campers for a Friday morning workout.
- Six-time Olympic medalist Lochte's surprise visit to a team of 250 kids in Los Angeles in February. Lochte showed up to the team's practice meet where he competed in a relay with the kids, posed for pictures and spoke to the team.
- World-record holder and 2008 Olympian Kate Ziegler (Great Falls, Va.) appeared at a water-safety rally at the Independence Park Gymnasium in Fullerton, Calif., on February 15, and spoke to 300 kids about the importance of learning how to swim. In mid-February, Lezak joined forces with open water rising star Christine Jennings (Longmont, Colo.) to sign autographs at the JO Max Meet in Tustin, Calif.