Pepperdine Women's Swimming Saved By Anonymous Donor

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 1

February 22nd, 2010 College

The Pepperdine Women’s Swim Team was saved from the chopping block by an anonymous donor, according to the Malibu Times. The donor and donation amount were kept anonymous, but the team was attempting to raise $1.6 million to cover their operating budget for the next 4 years. There has been no details released about the donors, specifically what their connection is to the program, but it’s great news that someone stepped up and gave a huge donation to save the program.

The Pepperdine University women’s swimming and diving team will continue to make waves in the pool for the next four years.

Pepperdine Athletic Director Dr. John Watson wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday that a donor had committed to provide funding for all operation costs of the swim team to keep it active.

“The donation is sufficient to cover the operating costs of the program, including salaries, equipment and uniforms, team travel, training, office operations, etc.,” he wrote, adding that Pepperdine will not disclose the amount of the donation other than saying it is secure and available for many years.

The program needed at least $1.6 million in order to operate until the 2013-14 season.

Watson also said Pepperdine would not reveal the identity of the donor, since they have asked not to be publicly recognized.

The Waves learned about the donation on Feb. 14, hours after they ended their season with a fourth-place finish in the PCSC Championships at Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach.

The donation announcement came 12 days after Pepperdine concluded a two-month pledge drive, of which the goal was to secure $400,000 of annual funding for each of the next four years, but had not garnered enough support by the deadline.

Sophomore diver Leslie Wade said it was a relief to know that the Waves will be able to swim and dive into competitive waters for four more years.

“It is a really great feeling,” said Wade. “We were all in shock. It is really a great thing, we have been praying really hard and it seems that God has answered our prayers.”

This time last year though, the Waves were swimming in murky waters.

In March 2009, Watson announced that Pepperdine was cutting the swimming team as a result of the worsening economic crisis that is affecting collegiate athletic programs across the nation.

In order to reallocate $850,000 to aid school expenses, the athletic department laid-off nine employees and axed the men’s track team.

Wade, a native of Atlanta, Ga., said the team often refers to that day as “Black Friday.”

“It was the first day of spring break,” she said. “I remember I had just gotten off an airplane at the Atlanta airport, and I received the e-mail from the athletic director on my iPhone. I was in utter shock, we all were.”

The swimming and diving program was saved from the chopping block for the 2009-10 season when $150,000 in donations from swim team supporters flooded into the athletic department.

Wade said swimmers and divers of the 26-member Wave team entered their 13-meet season in October knowing that this could be their last season together.

“We were all sort of hopeful that we would be able to work something out though,” she said.

Pepperdine began the pledge drive to save the swimming and diving team in December. After receiving a $75,000 in donations the first week of the drive, the drive finished short of its $1.6 million goal in donations by the Jan. 31 deadline, according to Watson’s e-mail.

In a Feb. 12 e-mail to the Waves, Watson told the team about the program-saving donation. “It is exciting to know that a very special group of young women will continue to have the opportunity to pursue their passion as swimmers and divers at Pepperdine,” he wrote.

Watson said the funds raised through the pledge drive will be returned to donors, and added he is starting the process of seeking financial commitments to fund athletic scholarships for the swim team.

Junior diver Tiffany Martz said not knowing whether there would be another season for the Waves was emotional and brought the team closer together.

“If the team’s season had been cancelled, I would have been quite sad,” she said.

The Waves did not learn about the financial commitment to their program until after the four-day PCSC Championships.

During the championships, several swimmers and divers had standout performances. Sophomore swimmer Madison Krall posted all-time Pepperdine-best times in the 100-meter freestyle, 1650-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley, while freshman swimmer Rachel Dekar posted all-time university best times in the 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter breaststroke. Kayleen Hicks, a junior swimmer, posted two of the best times in Pepperdine history in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Another Wave top-performer during the 15-team event was Wade, who placed third in the one-meter springboard.

Wade said she is really thankful for the donor, whoever it may be.

“Thank you so much I know times are tough with the economy,” she said. “I appreciate everything and on behalf of the team, ‘Thank you.’ We appreciate everything you are doing for us. It is a tremendous relief and we are really blessed to have someone come forward and take care of the funds.”

Here is the original article from the Malibu Times.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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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