Swimming is a sport of grace and mechanics. It’s won with speed, but that speed hinges on proper technique, specific body position, and controlled bursts of strength. When done properly, there aren’t many more events as spectacular to watch as eight swimmers, stride-for-stride, straining towards the wall simultaneously, each with the overwhelming desire to get there first.
Many age group swimmers (those typically under the age of 15) get frustrated by the nuances of each stroke and try to find “faster” ways to move through the water – and some succeed, but only for a time. Eventually, form triumphs and these swimmers learn what many before have already come to grips with: speed is a by-product of proper technique. Not only does following the guidelines of technique result in faster swims, deviating from said form could result in a disqualification.
Journalists have a lot in common with swimmers in this regard. Their techniques have been well explained over the years. Follow a hunch, look for evidence, research, find sources, verify, verify, verify. Unfortunately, many in the field today only care about speed. Headlines are primary. Details are secondary. Accuracy is a luxury. Shape the story before it’s a story. Why verify when you can vilify? And most unfortunate: there are no DQ’s in journalism.
Speed was certainly the key to the recent “Lochte Four” stories breaking from Rio last week. Initially, everyone was sympathetic towards Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz. It was a cut and dry emotional piece about the dangers of competing internationally – a close call for four of America’s Olympic swimmers.
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