Following the conclusion of the 2019 NCAA season in April, the women-only Rutgers University swim team will head to Stockholm, Sweden, for the Swim Open Stockholm April 12th-15th.
It will be the first time an American team has attended the meet, according to the school.
“The vision for this program is that we’re building towards being one of the top programs in the country,” head coach Jon Maccoll told SwimSwam. “We think joining the Big Ten in 2014 and starting to get the funding behind that from a budget, scholarship, and support standpoint from the school – this really makes sense.”
Rutgers’ rosters traditionally feature a number of international swimmers from the likes of Italy, Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. But the trip isn’t just about gaining international presence for recruiting purposes. It’s practical, too.
“We have a lot of international swimmers, we have a lot of American swimmers that are needing meter times,” Maccoll explained. “We looked at the Mesa Grand Prix [now the Pro Swim Series], and we looked at where we’re located geographically, and just thought ‘we can get to Stockholm for the same price we can get to Mesa,’ and we just feel that this meet is a better fit for the kids that we have on the team.”
And in terms of balancing academics with international travel, the timing of the meet is such that athletes will miss less time than they would have to travel domestically to Mesa. The Stockholm Open runs Friday-Monday, as opposed to the Pro Swim Series, which runs Wednesday-Saturday,
“When we go to Mesa, it’s about a six-and-a-half hour flight, but being on the East Coast, it’s only about seven-and-a-half to Sweden,” Maccoll said. “So from a travel standpoint, it’s about the same. The one difference is that we actually miss less class time in Stockholm, which is really important to our school and how strong the academics are here.”
The plan is for everyone on the team (who has the cuts, shown below) to travel. Because the meet is so close to final exams, Rutgers has implemented a minimum GPA requirement, which Maccoll doesn’t believe should limit the travel team much, if at all.
Swim Open Stockholm LCM Qualifying Standards
In terms of timing it with conference and NCAA Championships tapers and training, Maccoll says he’ll work with swimmers individually to figure out their goals.
“We have athletes here where their first priority is to become a pharmacists, we have people here who want to be doctors, but we also have people where, they’re getting an education, but they’re on their national teams or working toward their national teams, and with Tokyo coming up in 2020, it’ll be probably a little different for a few of our athletes that have a real chance at representing their country in Tokyo.”
In the past, the meet has had national teams from Germany, Poland, Norway, and Finland, England, and more attend.
“I’d be willing to be bet we’re probably one of a handful of teams, if not the first, to go to Europe during the season as part of a full-team event, unless somebody did it as part of a training trip or something like that,” Maccoll added.
And in his first year as head coach, was Maccoll hesitant at all to plan a trip like this?
“Absolutely not,” he said, noting that Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs gave his support. “The athletics support from our staff has been amazing, and this meet makes perfect sense for us from a vision standpoint, and it is absolutely the next step in increasing the athlete experience in terms of things we’re able to offer here at Rutgers.”