On Sunday, swimming phenom Michael Andrew of Lawrence, Kan., turned professional by signing an endorsement deal with a health supplement company, P2Life.
He’s 14 years old and officially became the youngest pro swimmer in U.S. history. Michael, if you don’t know, holds 11 National Age Group records and broken 32 of those records since he started getting serious in the pool.
Here’s the link to the story on swimswam.com.
Initial reaction from elite swimmers was decidedly negative. Garrett Weber-Gale tweeted that it was a mistake for the youngster, Ricky Berens agreed.
I think that reaction is too bad. Everyone is overly concerned with whether or not Michael will receive a “proper education” or that he’s too young. Other athletes have turned pro in other sports and succeeded. Maybe not right away, but it’s not news.
I say let the family figure it out themselves. If Michael spends the next 15 years swimming professionally, earning a living, living a healthy lifestyle, traveling and being a positive role model to other young swimmers and his peers outside the pool, then why not?
How is that a bad idea?
College will always be there and he could pay his own way. No need to use a scholarship that could go to someone who needs it. At least in 15 years he’ll have a pretty good idea of what he wants to do: Sports psychology? Teaching? Business degree? It’s better to wait and know exactly what you want to do before going into debt for $250,000 and switching your major every year.
We are so caught up in everyone towing the same line — school, college, etc. — that we forget to think outside the box. And that it’s OK to find your own path.
Have we forgotten that swimmers are a little different anyway?
Here’s a great comment from his coach/dad Peter Andrew:
As Michael stepped out of the car to start the day’s fishing, Dad and coach Peter, playing a dual role, suddenly got a bit less technical. “Ya know, to be able to spend so much time with my son, and have success, and hopefully get to travel the world with him…that’s the greatest thing I could ever ask for.”