A proposal moving through the SEC would split that conference’s championship meet by gender to limit participant numbers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference has weighed several options for this year’s SEC Swimming & Diving Championships, including splitting the meet up to multiple host sites and/or splitting the meet by gender.
The SEC typically holds its women’s and men’s conference meets together, unlike other Power-5 conferences. The Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 all swim their women’s meet first, followed by the men’s meet the next week. The Big 12 is the only other Power-5 conference to host women’s and men’s championships at the same time and place, but that conference’s 5 schools with swimming programs make it a much more manageable meet than the SEC, which has a dozen schools with swimming programs.
The current SEC proposal would have the University of Georgia host the women’s meet and the University of Missouri host the men’s meet in 2021. Much could still change, but the current proposal suggests the women’s meet would happen from February 17-20, with the men’s meet from February 23-26.
Diving for both men and women would happen at the Missouri facility, but during or before the dates of the women’s meet. That would put the overall timeline something like this:
- Women’s & Men’s diving – at Missouri – Feb 17-20 (or earlier)
- Women’s swimming – at Georgia – Feb. 17-20
- Men’s swimming – at Missouri – Feb 23-26
The 2020 SEC Championships featured about 232 women’s swimmers and 195 men’s swimmers competing. There were about 57 divers, with women and men combined. That means the proposal would split a nearly-500-participant SEC meet into three separate competitions, all with 250 or fewer participants – not including coaches, officials and other staff.
Also of note: the proposal would shorten the SEC Championships from its traditional five-day format down to a three-and-a-half day meet. That would effectively mirror the NCAA format, which features a relay-only session on Wednesday night, followed by morning prelims and afternoon finals from Thursday to Saturday.