The Big Ten Conference is moving to a four-and-a-half day championship format for the 2021 men’s and women’s swimming & diving championships that begin later this month.
Last week, Ohio State announced via a press release that the Big Ten men’s championships would be held from March 2 – 6. This spans 5 days of competition, which is a day longer than the meet is usually held.
Initially, SwimSwam assumed this was an error. But, after a spokesperson from the school verified that those were the dates received from the conference, SwimSwam was able to confirm with multiple conference coaches that the present plan is to host four-and-a-half day championships.
Meets will be held Tuesday through Saturday, with the first day being an evening-only session, and continuing into four days of competition. Coaches are meeting on Wednesday to try to nail down the exact schedule, but are planning to somewhat mirror the 5-day SEC Championship format that has been used for the last few seasons in that conference, though there are expected to be some deviations.
Coaches have told SwimSwam that the idea behind stretching out the conference championship meet is to reduce the number of individuals in the building at any given time amid the COVID-19 safety protocols. At present, the change is being planned as a temporary shift for this season only to deal with the complications of the pandemic.
Updated 2021 Big Ten Conference Championship Schedule:
- Big Ten Men’s & Women’s Diving Championships – February 24-27 – Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana
- Big Ten Women’s Swimming Championships – February 23-27 – University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Big Ten Men’s Swimming Championships – March 2-6 – Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Ironically, the SEC this season will move to a more traditional 4-day championship format, which includes splitting their men’s and women’s meets (they usually hold a combined-gender event).
The Michigan men won the 2020 Big Ten Championship, ending a 3-year Indiana title streak. On the women’s side, Ohio State pulled off a surprisingly-dominant victory over arch-rivals Michigan.
The Indiana men and Ohio State women were scheduled to return the most points for this season from last year’s conference rosters, based on eligibility, though a number of other factors in the pandemic season will impact the outcomes.