NCAA Considering Pushing Division I Swim & Dive Championships Into April

The NCAA is in discussion to potentially shift the Division I Swimming & Diving Championships back a number of weeks, well into the month of April.

The NCAA Championships have traditionally been held in mid-to-late March, with the women’s championships beginning on the third Thursday in March (with competition beginning Wednesday night) and running through Saturday, with the men’s meet taking place one week later.

The Division I Swim & Dive Committee is now looking into holding the women’s championship on the Wednesday through Saturday after the first Sunday in April.

According to the committee’s meeting in early August, the reasoning behind looking into the change is that it would allow the meet to take place after the NCAA men’s basketball (March Madness) tournament.

If this change does come into effect, it would first come into play in 2027, with the NCAA having already announced the hosts of the 2024, 2025 and 2026 championships back in 2020.

The NCAA has thus asked those bidding to host the 2027 and 2028 championships to keep the April dates open.

Current Schedule – If No Change

  • 2027 Women’s NCAA Championships: March 17-20, 2027
  • 2027 Men’s NCAA Championships: March 24-27, 2027
  • 2028 Women’s NCAA Championships: March 15-18, 2028
  • 2028 Men’s NCAA Championships: March 22-25, 2028

Potential Schedule

  • 2027 Women’s NCAA Championships: April 7-10, 2027
  • 2027 Men’s NCAA Championships: April 14-17, 2027
  • 2028 Women’s NCAA Championships: April 5-8, 2028
  • 2028 Men’s NCAA Championships: April 12-15, 2028

If this were to occur, the new championship dates would bleed into the start of the international long course season, specifically impacting European swimmers who will often head overseas in April to compete in qualifying events for the big international championship of the summer.

In past years, Canadian swimmers have had an incredibly tight turnaround from the end of the NCAA Championships to the start of their national selection trials, including male swimmers such as Josh Liendo having just two days between the end of Men’s NCAAs (March 25) and the start of the Canadian Trials (March 28) this year.

Swimming Canada announced a revamped quad plan in May that will see all of its trials meets take place in either June or July through 2028, so this change won’t affect Canadian swimmers as it would have in past years.

If it does take place, the move into early to mid-April would introduce a new element to championship season for some of the top teams, who have typically held back at their conference championship meets to save a full taper for NCAAs. With this extended break, it could see a change of strategy for how teams attack conference meets.

The NCAA D1 Swim & Dive Committee noted that it would seek feedback from conferences before offering any recommendations on the change.

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DP Spellman
29 days ago

Olympic year redshirting will go WAY up for all nationalities (but especially for American swimmers).
I’m not sure we would see a big impact relative to “March Madness” in terms of marketing.

Bart P
29 days ago

I don’t know how far back tradition goes, but I distinctly remember men’s NCAAs in 1987 being in April.

PA Swammer
1 month ago

I think that viewers may still be riding the high of watching championship style events from march madness and would absolutely generate more outside interest in that meet. This would mean more eyeballs on the event, which means more sponsors want to be apart of the event, which means more money being poured into college swimming and diving. It would be different, which I am never one who likes too much change, but ultimately it would be better for viewership and better financially, both things you need in order to grow the sport.

1 month ago

I’m a fan. I foolishly got married 31 years ago on March 24th, so I’ve always had a conflict with my anniversary. Happy wife, happy life!

Just Sayin’
1 month ago

There are tons of conflicts in March with many championship meets for club swimmers. IMO, April changes the game for all. Leggoo!

1 month ago

If they do this, but don’t also do it for wrestling and gymnastics it doesn’t make sense.

Reply to  oxyswim
1 month ago

as those sports might be more watched in tv or have more spectators….

Reply to  samulih
1 month ago

NCAA Gymnastics is MUCH more popular than swimming.

Reply to  ScovaNotiaSwimmer
29 days ago

But it is still up against March Madness and presumably has its viewership hurt by the overlap with this logic.

Reply to  oxyswim
29 days ago

Gymnastics Nationals are usually held in the middle of April. I think March Madness is done by then, no?

Gymnastics has meets pretty much every single weekend from January to mid-April (with 2 week breaks from regular season to conference champs in mid/late March and from Regionals in late March/early April to Nats in mid-April), so I don’t think they can alter that schedule to avoid March Madness in any significant way…

Most of the big gymnastics teams sell out their 10,000-20,000 capacity arenas and had over 1 million viewers to watch Nats live on ESPN this year. They’re doing fine.

1 month ago

Have we considered moving meets forward (earlier in the year) rather than pushing them back (later)? If March Madness typically starts the same week the women’s NCAA’s do, then why not just move the meet two weekends earlier?

For example, that would be moving the 2024 Champs from 20th-23rd to 6th-9th. Men’s would follow suit one week later. Then teams shift their conference meets into the last weekend of January or early February, and the official season would start sooner.

This would

  • avoid conflicts with March Madness
  • provide international swimmers time to train for April/May championship meets
  • allow swimmers and divers to actually have a typical spring break (NCAA swimmers still might miss)

Teams who take training… Read more »

Reply to  thezwimmer
1 month ago

This question was posed at the CSCAA convention and ultimately rejected. Moving it forward would cause the start of the season to be moved earlier as well.

Reply to  I_Said_It
29 days ago

What’s the issue with moving forward the start of the season? Plenty of sports and schools have athletes report before classes start for other sports. Some already do it for swim if they have a late start

1 month ago

I know a lot of the swimmers that make NCAAs have to wait until the championship meet is over before they take a ‘spring break’ aka, get a swimming break and possibly catch up on school work, and pushing it into April might kill that “break” for them all together if they have to jump right into long course. And then it’s a whole different taper schedule.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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