By USA Swimming | Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Last year, USA Swimming launched “Off the Blocks,” a digital video series that followed some of the sport’s most prominent swimmers as they prepared for the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships.
“Off the Blocks” is back for 2019, featuring a whole new slate of stars as they compete on the TYR Pro Swim Series, and prepare for the 2019 Open Water National Championships and the FINA World Championships.
Jim Rusnak, editor-in-chief of USA Swimming’s Splash Magazine and executive producer of “Off the Blocks” took some time to answer questions about Season 2, which will premiere March 4 onsftest.usaswimming.org.
Was Season 1 as successful as you expected?
Rusnak: Season 1 was much more successful than I could have ever dreamed. The three full episodes we posted to YouTube have gotten more than 250,000 views and counting. The “and counting” part is really important. A lot of times you’ll post a video to YouTube, and it gets a certain number of hits over a day, or a week, or whatever, and that’s it. But people keep coming back to watch these videos, to the tune of anywhere between 500 to 1,000 hits a day. That’s a good thing. And it’s not even counting the hundreds of thousands of views the series teasers generated on Instagram and other social media. From a fan engagement perspective, we really hit on something here.
In addition to all the views “Off the Blocks” has generated for us, we were also named as a finalist in the Video category of the Folio: Digital Awards. Folio: is a media company out of New York dedicated to providing magazine publishing professionals with the news, insights, and best practices to keep them in tune with today’s media industry trends. As a finalist, we’re in some good company, including Forbes, NBC Universal and the Meredith Corporation – all giants of the media industry.
What’s in store for Season 2 of “Off the Blocks?”
Rusnak: First we expanded from three episodes to five this season, all of which center around the TYR Pro Swim Series, the Open Water National Championships and the FINA World Championships. As you can see from the teaser, we have some pretty big names lined up for season 2 – Caeleb Dressel, Kathleen Baker, Haley Anderson, Jordan Wilimovsky. We’ll also have one episode revolving around the TYR Pro Swim Series at Bloomington and some swimmers competing there.
Why the focus on open water this year?
Rusnak: This is one of the biggest years for open water. The 2019 Open Water National Championships is essentially the first step in selecting our 2020 Olympic open water team. There’s a do-or-die element to this year’s Open Water Nationals that adds to the excitement of this year’s competition, and we really want to showcase just how exciting open water can be.
When does it all begin?
Rusnak: “Off the Blocks” will continue its “Russian Nesting Doll” release model. Back at the end of January, USA Swimming featured Caeleb Dressel in its Instagram stories during the shoot. Today, we released our Season 2 teaser, which will be followed by teasers for Season 2, Episode 1 with Caeleb on USA Swimming’s social media channels over the next few weeks. The full-length episode – the Season 2 Premier – will be released March 4 onsftest.usaswimming.org, at 10 a.m. Mountain Time.