After months of training and hard work, Olympian swimmer Alicja Tchórz has won the Polish Swimmers’ League on the path to return to the Olympics next year. Her reward is embarrassingly low.

image girl sits on the edge of a pool

New goggles! Great!

A swimming champion wins a competition and gets 200 złoty (approx. 50€) as a prize. Alicja Tchórz, who has participated in the Olympics, won the swimming competition in Ciechanów this weekend, but after receiving the prize her nerves gave way. Swimming is her life, and training is all she does, so she announced that next time she will distribute flyers on the street.

Records and titles give satisfaction, but there are victories that do not taste good. Awarding a 23-year-old swimmer after 16 years of training with 200 złoty for such a difficult competition is a little bit funny – admits Alicja Tchórz.

Embarassing award

The swimmer does not laugh though. The junior European champion and Poland’s record holder shares her bitter regrets on Facebook. After winning the competition of the Polish Swimmers’ League she concluded that she was thinking about distributing flyers. She called the award an embarrassment, and her entry unleashed a storm.

The president of the Polish Swimming Association (PZP – Polski Związek Pływacki) Andrzej Kowalski announced that the board has to consider whether the swimmer was not actually right.

We will surely not allow for such an alternative as distributing flyers to be observed in a competitor. The fact that a swimmer does not feel good after winning a competition is not a good sign – he says.

Low scholarships

The Olympics are next year and it takes a lot to prepare oneself. The swimmer has calculated that in Poland for a two-day competition the winners earn 4.5zł per hour, with the national minimum of 7zł and average of 17zł.

Flyers you simply give to people, but you must be able to swim, you have to win to earn the money – says Nelson, who works at a restaurant and distributes flyers.

The Ministry of Sport scholarship you can only get after winning an Olympics medal, the European Championships or the World Championships. It is a monthly sum between 6 and 8 thousand złoty. At a sports club swimmers can only count on modest scholarships, up to 1,500zł. Compared to yearly wages of other Polish sports players, e.g. 635 thousand a year in football, 168 thousand in volleyball, 120 thousand in handball and 1.1 mln in speedway, swimmers have to get by on very little.

Even champions of other sport disciplines recognise that swimmers and athletes are among those in sport who can feel like second-class players.

These awards either do not exist or are very low, and sometimes you do not even want to take them home with you, you simply feel unappreciated. It’s a bit of an indignity – says Monika Pyrek, an athlete, the winner of 11 gold and 3 silver medals in the Polish pole vault championships.

Alicja Tchórz says she would have preferred a regular diploma. Now she has a problem, not knowing what to do with the prize.

It’s enough for a new pair of goggles and a cap.

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