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Preston Parrish was a member of College of Charleston’s swim team from 2005-2009. He then coached for Mt. Pleasant Swim Club, SwimMAC Carolina, and Carmel Swim Club. He was the Head Manager for the Men’s National Select Camp at the Olympic Training Center last month. He is currently getting his master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in Sport and Entertainment Management.
Thursday (11/6) evening, the athlete director of the College of Charleston, Joe Hull, informed the Cougar Swim and Dive program that they are on the chopping block due to “maintenance” costs surrounding the pool and ventilation system. This was something I had long been preparing for, after programs like Clemson and Maryland dropped their programs a few years ago, I knew mid-major schools, such as CofC, would be next. The news spread quickly, as there was an immediate outpour of support from the entire country to help save this team. I immediately talked with my teammates during my tenure at the College about how we can fight this and raise the necessary fund, in the neighborhood of 1.5 million, to make the repairs. And here I am, asking for all of your help.
Friday (11/7), the same athletic director, Joe Hull, told the team that even if they raised the 1.5 million dollars, the team would still be cut.
So you lie to us about why you’re cutting the team? Was money ever the real issue? What is the real issue?
We, the swimming community, College of Charleston Alumni everywhere, and the former and current members of the College of Charleston swimming and diving program deserve an explanation. A real explanation.
The swim team has had the highest GPA among sports teams on campus and it has a 100% graduation rates for swimmers who stayed on the team all 4 years. Which of these reasons lead Mr. Hull to make his decision?
The reasons why this team needs to remain a varsity sport at the College of Charleston are many. As a member of the brother- and sisterhood of swimming, I know many of you are aware of them, because if your team was in a similar position, you’d fight for the same reasons too. Just like we are fighting for ours now.
Our alumni are doing incredible things, and I wanted everyone to know a few examples of why this program is worth saving. For instance, Andy Puciaty swam for CofC 2006-2010 and recently completed medical school at USC. Now he is completing his first year of residency working in emergency medicine. Then there’s Chris Lietzow who swam at CofC from 2005-2009. He attended the Charleston School of Law following his student-athlete status, and is now an Assistant Solicitor for the City of Charleston. Michael and Millard Mulé swam on the team from 2002-2006 and now run a political campaign strategy firm that helped re-elect a Governor and a US Senator in this past week’s elections. Bucky Buchanan swam on the team from 2004-2008 and is currently completing his 2nd master’s degree while also working for College of Charleston as an instructor of exercise science and the Fitness Director of the College. He also volunteers with the swim team. There’s Kalyn Cogswell who now works at Trident Medical Center as an Occupational Therapist, and Alex Gray who is now a detective with the North Charleston Police Department. I could go on and on about the awesome things that former members of the College of Charleston swim team are now doing, but I think you get the idea. Although, no one is ever a former member of the team. They are, indeed, a member of the current team, and past teams, and those teams still to be seen.
And herein lies the problem. The athletic department has lost sight of who these amazing student-athletes are. To them, the team is not worth the spending. And the fact that without having a swim team, these people would not have considered attending the College of Charleston, and not become a part of the family we have become and built upon. We have become a number on a budget somewhere that the Athletic department can apparently no longer afford amidst controversy.
The kinds of people listed above are the kinds of people that the College will miss out on as potential students in the future, as well as Clemson, Maryland and the other colleges that have succumbed to “financial constraints” of college athletics. Swimming is a sport that recruits great people to participate in it, as evidenced by all the people mentioned above. This is because, in my opinion, swimming and diving has some of the greatest people in it.
The current team and alumni of the program are going to raise the 1.5 million dollars the athletic department claims will fix the ventilation system for the pool to save the program. But we are going to need as much help and support as we can get. If anyone can offer assistance, monetary or otherwise, we will gladly accept it.
I am so proud to have been able to call myself a member of the College of Charleston team and I am so proud to call these amazing people my teammates and my family. I want to give the same opportunity that I had to younger generations of swimmers who want to attend College of Charleston in the future. Folding the team does not do this.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to rise up one more time! And Go Cougars!
“I’ll fight for you, you fight for me. We’re swimmers.” –Nick Campbell (current CofC Swim and Dive Cougar) #SaveCofCSwimandDive