Generational College Rivalries Begin This Weekend in College Swimming

This weekend will kick off two weeks of college swimming rivalry dual meets as teams prepare for the upcoming conference championship season in February and March.

While rivalry meets can happen at any time in the college swimming & diving season, most of the traditional rivalries are saved for the spring semester, as teams begin to ramp up their intensity for peak performance.

The quality of these rivalries in swimming terms waxes and wanes. Sometimes they’re competitive, sometimes they’re not; sometimes the teams are among the best in the land, and sometimes they aren’t.

But these meets, even just dual meets, are bigger than that. These rivalries are engrained in their student bodies from football and basketball and other sports, and swimmers aren’t immune to that indoctrination.

Alumni aren’t either, especially alumni who don’t follow the day-to-day of the aquatics programs. The average Ohio State alumnus probably couldn’t name anybody on Ohio State’s swim team, but if Ohio State beats Michigan this weekend, they’re going to share the social media far-and-wide.

This is an opportunity for student-athletes to show the best of themselves, to show the intensity of swimming under the spotlight of the biggest rivalries. Regardless of the outcomes, it is a chance for the sport to grow, and to capture the hearts of a few new fans. We know that the swimming & diving teams have bigger goals coming up, but every big opportunity should be relished and cherished and taken with the gravity that is owed.

That intensity makes for great preparation for the intensity of those big championship meets to come, and that intensity can be a showcase for our sport(s).

You are going to see that intensity this week. In the SwimSwam comments, on social media, complaints about who wore suits and who didn’t, and the ever-present accusations of premature resting will peak in the next two weeks.

College swimming is big. In America, outside of the Olympics, it is the best opportunity for the general public to engage with our sport. The world at large might not known the difference between breaststroke and backstroke, but they sure do know what the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry means. They understand the context of Louisville-Kentucky, and the nearly-genetic emotion tied up in Auburn-Alabama.

No matter how much we shout about dual meets not mattering, it is unequivocal that these meets matter. They may not determine championships, they may not hang banners, but they excite imaginations and amplify success. These are meets that teams and fan bases can build around.

Watch them with joy.

Rivalry Week #1 – Key Matchups

  • #16M/#16W Michigan – #10M/#7W Ohio State
  • #7M/#1W Virginia vs. #5M/#4W NC State vs. NRM/#13W UNC
  • #18M/#6W Louisville – NRM/#17W Kentucky
  • #15M/#22W Auburn – #14M/#5W Alabama
  • #3M/#12W Florida – RVM/NRW Florida State
  • #11M/#23W Texas A&M – #19M/#18W LSU
  • RVM/NRW Purdue – #6M/#8W Indiana

M = Men
W = Women
RV = Received Votes
NR = Not Ranked

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6 days ago

Can’t wait for the gamecocks to face some of their in-state rivals this weekend…oh wait 🙁

6 days ago

Intro paragraph had me ready to run through a brick wall. Great work Braden

hey, big mama!
6 days ago


6 days ago

Don’t even mention UGA and Tennessee. No surprise there.

James Beam
6 days ago

Double check Indiana…women are ranked….

Reply to  James Beam
6 days ago

It says “#8W” for the Indiana women’s squad (who bettered by 5 spots after embarrassing Michigan)

6 days ago

“If Ohio State beats Michigan”? This meet is gonna be a bloodbath

James Beam
Reply to  Yaboi
6 days ago

DraftKings or FanDuel have any of these meets open for betting?

Reply to  Yaboi
6 days ago

is either team suiting up?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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