This summer, we had a large focus on the Olympics, but what most people failed to notice is the trespassing of gender inequality in swimming. Women have fewer options than men in the number of events. For example, the men’s longest race happens to be 1500 meters, while women’s is 800 meters.
The Olympic Committee insinuates that women cannot compete in the 1500m because they cannot compare to men. However, this would be false because time and time again, women prove that they are just as capable as men. In fact, women can swim more mileage than men for they are more endurance-oriented.
Look at Katie Ledecky for example. She beat the world record in the 1500m, quadrupling the five-second gap she already created with an incredible time of 15 minutes, 25.48 seconds. With this feat, women are obviously able to succeed in long distance swimming, so why is it still excluded from the Olympics?
Many fail to comprehend that this is the 21st century and not the 1800’s anymore. Women have more strength and independence and have proven to the world that we are driven down no more. But there are still biases set in society that prevent women from achieving what they are meant to as a human. Society claims that “Men are just more uniquely capable” or that “women are useless,” so why bother with it? This logic destroys any chance of competing in what’s already not there, like the 1500m. Therefore, competitive swimming in the Olympics does not show all the stellar performances that the audience could actually see.
As we all know, the Olympics are a major contributing factor to entertainment worldwide. We as the audience want to see a long challenge that gets you on edge and the 1500m can do that. Since it is such a long test, the swimmers are fighting to maintain their pace. They can easily lose their place in the race through exhaustion over the course of swimming nearly a mile. So no matter who you are rooting for, you will always be jumping out of your seat and yelling for the win. With all these thrills, the 1500m event should be in the Olympics.
Currently, the longest event at the Olympics for women is the 800m. Since this was added in 1968, why can’t just add one more? It couldn’t hurt for it will reel in the viewers for people will want to see something new. I know I would. It is always entertaining to see something new come into view, for you will not know what is going to happen. It is like when USA swimmer Lily King wagged her finger in disproval at Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova’s participation in her swimming events after Efimova’s suspension for banned substances. It is merely exciting.
Considering the demand for change in gender inequality has been constantly brought up, you would think that FINA and IOC leaders would not be so reluctant to keep this ideology of weakness in gender comparisons. With society changing rapidly, the leaders should consider adding the 1500m to the list of events. It is simply unfair to base women off of past societal judgements.
With the unlikely possibility of adding the 1500m in the Olympics, Olympic leaders ultimately display that swimming is a male-dominated sport. If they continue to be so reluctant, then the Olympics will always appear to be separate and unequal. As an audience member, I would not want to see this. Women are just as capable as men and should be seen this way. When the next Olympics come around, will we uphold this discrepancy?