By Charlie Keaton | Tuesday, November 14, 2017
The USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative has made a habit of being first in the water on issues of safety, inclusion, and diversity. But what other notable firsts has the world seen since then?
The Political Landscape Shifts
American voters in 2008 elected our nation’s first African-American president: Barack Obama, a 48 year-old senator from Illinois. That campaign season also saw Hillary Clinton become the first American woman to win a major party’s presidential primary for delegate selection, while Sarah Palin became the first female Republican vice presidential candidate.
‘Next Year’ Finally Comes
When the Cubs won the 2016 World Series in dramatic fashion, Chicago’s long-suffering fans experienced the joy of victory after more than a century of disappointment. It was the first world championship title for the Cubs since 1908 — the longest professional championship drought in sports history.
Our Connected World
The first social media platforms predate Make a Splash, but the full weight of their impact is relatively recent. Pinterest and Instagram first appeared in 2010, and Snapchat a year later. Today, Instagram earns nearly $600 million in annual mobile ad revenue, and 400 million snaps are shared on Snapchat daily.
Hamilton Goes Hip Hop
During a six-month stretch in 2015, Hamilton, created and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, went from minor production to Broadway sensation. The following year it became the first ever to earn 16 Tony nominations (winning 11), along with a Grammy Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The growing diversity of American swimming was clear at the 2016 Games in Rio. Simone Manuel’s record-setting win in the 100-meter freestyle made her the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold in swimming. Anthony Ervin, a 35 year-old of African and Jewish descent, became the first swimmer to win Olympic gold medals 16 years apart.
Our Connected World
With the appearance of Apple’s Siri in 2011, the era of the digital personal assistant was ushered in — and with it, the ability to control our tasks as never before. Amazon’s Alexa came three years later, and today, we communicate with our dishwashers and thermostats. Amazing.
At the 2010 Academy Awards, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. Her film, The Hurt Locker, earned six awards overall, including Best Picture. Bigelow triumphed over her fellow nominee and ex-husband, Avatar director James Cameron.
The Royal Wedding
Just as with his parents’ iconic ceremony 30 years earlier, the wedding of Great Britain’s Prince William to Kate Middleton in 2011 captured the world’s attention for months. The nuptials were broadcast to tens of millions across more than 180 countries. William remains second in line to the throne, behind his father, Prince Charles.
Wielgus Leaves a Legacy
USA Swimming’s long-time Executive Director, Chuck Wielgus, passed away after more than a decade spent battling cancer. During his tenure, USA Swimming doubled its membership, increased revenue by nearly 600 percent, and tallied 156 Olympic medals. Wielgus was also the driving force behind the USA Swimming Foundation and its Make a Splash initiative, which has since taught five million children to swim.
The Katie Ledecky ShowFollowing an astonishing breakout performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London — where the 15 year-old won gold in the 800-meter freestyle — Katie Ledecky was outright dominant four years later. Her five medals (four gold, one silver) in Rio made her the most decorated female athlete of the 2016 Games. Still just 20 years old, Ledecky boasts 26 medals in major international competitions (24 gold, 2 silver), alongside a slew of world records.