Courtesy of Visa and Michael Phelps training for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games

Courtesy of PowerBar and Michael Phelps before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Courtesy of Visa and Michael Phelps before the 2012 London Olympic Games

Courtesy of UnderArmour and Michael Phelps before the 2016 Olympic Games

Michael Phelps was not a subject of a television commercial in 2000 as a 15-year-old [see below], but he trains diligently, passionately and intensely off-camera…as do the other Olympic athletes preparing for the upcoming Rio Olympic Games.

We look forward to watching these Olympic athletes from around the world. We love to learn their back stories and becoming inspired by their diligence, passion and intensity – instead of reading endless negative press about the risk of the Zika virus, how dangerous Copacabana Beach water is, the ongoing drug and gang wars, the collapse of the local economy, how sick visitors to Rio de Janeiro will become, the lack of air conditioning and fires in Olympic Village rooms, and the crime waiting to happen to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Rio de Janeiro. In the lead-up to these Olympics, the media has repeatedly reminded readers of an impending disaster and a comprehensive sporting failure.

It is easy to find negativity in this world; it is more difficult for reporter to research and write inspirational articles about what these young athletes have put themselves through to get to the world’s stage in Rio. The Olympics are a celebration of athletic achievement; the athletes deserve better and more focus on what they will do, not the problems that are entirely out of their control.

We know the thousands of kilometers that the 50 young men and women have trained to qualify for the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, the thousands of hours they have pushed themselves doing dryland training, the strict nutritional plans they have followed, and the sacrifices their families have made over the past decade – and sometimes longer. These are the stories that we want to bring to the global open water swimming community.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association