Administrators at Tabor College, an NAIA institution in Hillsboro, Kansas, have announced their decision to add competitive swimming into the fold beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.
In an interview with the Hillsboro Free Press, Tabor’s vice president of athletics Rusty Allen stated the decision to add swimming was partially in the interest of increasing school enrollment, but also due to the growth of high school swimming throughout the state of Kansas.
The University of Kansas is the only other school in the state to offer competitive swimming. Since the Jayhawks only have a women’s team, that means Tabor will have the only college men’s squad in the Sunflower State.
Officials began their exploration in the spring of 2012 with a few initial hangups that needed solutions, particularly with regards to facilities. Allen told the Free Press “We had to negotiate an agreement with the Marion school district to use their facility because we don’t have an indoor facility in Hillsboro… We have a nice outdoor facility, but that wouldn’t work (for a college program).”
The other issue for Tabor? A lack of nearby competition: No other school in their conference (Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference) has a competitive swimming program (yet). Allen, however, remains optimistic: “Swim meets are typically on the weekend and they’re in tournament format, meaning you bring multiple schools together to one location, and so that’s a little bit different than your team sport schedules.”
He later added “For swimming, we may have to travel a little further, but there aren’t near as many actual dates (of competition), so it’s very doable. We’ve proven that it’s doable with our bowling team.” Allen expects Tabor will need to travel to surrounding states, but is also looking to host a couple small competitions.
Prior to the addition, Kansas was one of two states lacking an institution with men’s swimming, the other two being Alaska (although the University of Alaska-Fairbanks has a women’s squad) and Montana (which doesn’t appear to have a school with either men’s or women’s swimming).
For those who are curious, Hawaii, Delaware, and Mississippi also only has one institution offering swimming (University of Hawaii, University of Delaware, and Delta State University), but those three offer both a men’s and women’s team.