As Pool Drains Permanently, SUNY Alfred State Maintains Hope for Successful D-III Program

by Riley Overend 5

February 19th, 2024 College, NCAA Division III, News

After breaking seven Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) records at the championship meet this past weekend, SUNY Alfred State swimmers returned to their Western New York campus to find their pool slowly draining — for good.

Last November, the Division III school announced it would be closing its six-lane pool due to a leak that was threatening structural damage to the Orvis Activities Center in which it’s located. Alfred State said the space will converted into a facility for the basketball and volleyball teams while the swimming and diving program will be phased out, although no timeline was offered.

With the future uncertain, Alfred State imposed a recruiting pause on the Pioneers’ program as their 2024 recruiting class dwindled from nine potential additions to just one: Kaitlyn Jankowski. However, despite all the challenges ahead, first-year head coach Zach Healy maintains hope that Alfred State’s teams aren’t dead in the water just yet.

Sources told SwimSwam back in November that the plan was for the Pioneers to use the pool at nearby Alfred University during the 2024-25 season, which would likely be their last campaign before being eliminated entirely. But Healy now says there are discussions taking place “exploring a potential extension of that agreement to help keep our program going” beyond 2025.

“Nothing is set in stone yet, and Alfred University has to take care of its program first, but we are grateful to have at least one more season,” Healy said. “We very much appreciate the help and support from AU.”

As for the recruiting situation, Healy said there has been confusion surrounding what the pause means for prospective swimmers. Although he can’t reach out to recruits, they can reach out via the questionnaire on Alfred State’s athletics website to begin the conversation.

“When it comes to recruiting, we are in a situation that we can accept and bring new student athletes into our program, but are not explicitly reaching out as our future is unknown,” Healy said. “We would love to continue keeping the program strong, but do understand with the current situation surrounding our program that potential student athletes may choose to compete elsewhere. At the very least we would love to talk with anyone interested and are very open with the current status of the team.”

The Alfred State men and women weren’t able to defend their AMCC titles this past weekend, but they did combine for 17 new school records at the conference meet. The Pioneer women made history in 2020 when the squad captured the first AMCC title ever at the school — in any sport.

“Our athletics department has made it seem hopeless to us but our program deserves to be saved and our team is willing to fight,” Alfred State junior swimmer Maddy Snayczuk told SwimSwam in November. Snayczuk earned Swimmer of the Meet honors at this year’s AMCC Championships, breaking school records in the 100 free (53.70) and 200 free (1:57.95).

Alfred State’s swimming and diving program has a storied history dating back to its junior college days, when the Pioneer men captured four consecutive national championships from 1971-74. They transitioned to the Division III level in 2017.

“I am so unbelievably proud of this team, and how they’ve handled all the adversity we’ve faced,” said Healy, a SUNY collegiate swimmer himself at Cortland. “This team is such a tight-knit family, and being able to join them this season has been the best decision of my young career.”

Since the Orvis pool is draining slowly through the existing leaks, Healy said there might be time for one last time trial in the next day or so.

Six other New York-based college swim programs also announced they were cutting their teams last year.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ASC swim mom
2 months ago

My son is the swimmer in the photo above. Swimming brought him and most of his teammates to Alfred State, many of them (including our son) from out of state. This program puts Alfred State on the national map.

2 months ago

So they have the money to convert it into an entirely different facility for basketball and volleyball, but they won’t spend the money to upgrade and fix the current facility?

IU Swammer
Reply to  SwimGuy
2 months ago

It’s a lot cheaper to fill a pool with concrete and put a new floor over it than it is to dig it up, fix leaks, and maintain it.

Save the Smith Center
2 months ago

All too similar situation that also reflects what is happening at GW … feel so awful for all swimmers and divers losing their pools for courts!

2 months ago

Alfred St definitely needs a swimming program. This makes the school more attractive to students.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

Read More »