In anticipation of approaching Winter Storm Nemo and the estimated 2+ feet of snow it is expected to bring in some areas of Massachusetts the state’s high school Athletics Association has decided to cancel their Sectional Championship meets (the equivalent of a “district” championship in that state).
This has further riled the swimming community in a state that has been rocked by controversy in the last two years that included a boy being named a girls’ state champion, and the resignation and title stripping from one of the state’s most successful coaches over questions about his club team versus his high school team.
The MIAA posted the follow notice on their website this week:
BOYS AND GIRLS SECTIONAL SWIMMING AND DIVING
Due to the impending snowstorm, all Boys’ and Girls’ Sectional Swimming and Diving Championships, scheduled for this weekend, have been CANCELLED. We regret that facility and time constraints prohibit the re-scheduling of these events.
Whereas other championships expected this weekend, including 12 wrestling sectionals and a boys gymnastics meet, were pushed-back until after the storm, the boys and girls’ swimming and diving sectionals were just cancelled. All swimmers who had hit the state qualifying times will move straight to the State Championship meet, leaving no regard for those teams who had planned to hit their tapers and make their qualifying times at the Sectional meets. These cancellations will also hit hard those swimmers who aren’t fast enough for the State meet, but planned to use Sectionals as their big taper meet for the season.
The two girls’ state championship meets will be held February 16th at Springfield College and the boys’ meet will be February 17th at Harvard.
Local coaches and parents, like Bob Seltzer, have been quick to point out that Springfield College has been booked for Sunday, just in case such a delay comes up, and that the MIT pool has been booked for the other two sectional meets for Sunday as well. MIT, which has the capacity to run up to 20 competition lanes at once, could handle both the boys’ and the girls’ meets in a single day Sunday.
“We feel MIAA has not explored every possible avenue to ending the season for many of the kids,” Seltzer said. “The examples of MIT and Springfield College potential availability was not explored absent any definitive statements from the schools that they will not make their facilities available. Additionally, we have many other pools that could be used on Sunday since this a light weekend on the New England swimming calendar except for 1-2 last chance meets.”
Seltzer’s son has already hit his state qualifying times, but he, like many others in the area, are more concerned about those still trying to get to the cuts.
Coaches have been working with MIAA officials to arrange alternative plans, including mid-week meets for only those swimmers not already qualified for the state meet, but the MIAA won’t budge, saying that the cancellations are official.
Many Olympians have gotten behind the cause on social media, including Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky, Conor Dwyer, Elizabeth Beisel, Garrett Weber -Gale, and Chloe Sutton.
MIAA Winter State Championship qualifying times can be seen here, on page 7.
A Facebook page has been set up to support the return of these sectionals meets.