Around this time of year, everyone gets excited for the start of football season. Almost everyone has a favorite team, and almost everyone makes sure to stock up on adult beverages and BBQ every weekend before game time.
In addition to football season, however, the College Swimming season Lifeguard certification is almost upon us as well. This year, I challenge everyone to attend one local college swimming duel meet. Treat it like a football game – maybe even consider buying a team shirt and grilling out in the parking lot before the first race! Believe me when I tell you this is not uncommon in many parts of the country!
By attending college swimming meets, you may learn from watching some of the best swimmers in the area compete. It always helps to visualize what a great start looks like, what a great turn looks like, and most importantly, to be reminded how much fun it is to race in a competitive environment.
But attending college swimming meets is also very important for another reason. Since 1988, more than 300 Division I, II and III swimming programs have been eliminated. This is a big problem for the future of swimming in the United States!
Unlike most countries, the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) is decentralized. This means the U.S. Government does not operate and fund the USOC. As a result, the USOC lacks the financial means to provide direct coaching and training for most of its national athletes. Instead, the USOC relies to a large extent on collegiate programs to help athletes make the jump to elite status.
And since many swimmers do not blossom on an international level until college, this is particularly true in the case of swimming. If the NCAA continues to lose swimming programs, there will be fewer and fewer opportunities for America’s swimming talent to develop. Therefore, it is important we support college swimming in as many ways as possible.
In the future, I will be offering a number of suggestions on how you can support swimming at the college level and provide an overview of the positive and negative effects Title IX has had on swimming. For now, however, the most basic way to let college presidents and athletic directors know swimming is important is to go to the meets! By turning college swim meets into significant athletic events on campus, it will be more difficult for the decision makers to eliminate the programs when they are faced with budgetary shortfalls.