Swim Mom Musings: The Assault On College Swimming

Courtesy: Donna Hale

Every day I hear about more cuts to athletic programs, the elimination of swimming and diving, and the outright closure of colleges. Some were floundering already, but this pandemic just pushed too many over the edge. And it may not be over yet. It is heartbreaking.

There is no doubt that the cancellation of many summer leagues where many kids first develop their love for life in the fast lane, the lack of open pools where clubs can train, and the limited to nonexistent long course season could change the future of the sport we love for a very long time.

Swimmers, swim parents and alumni, it’s time to take a stand against this assault on our sport.

We all know that swimming is seen as a non-revenue sport, unlike football. And it is horrible what this pandemic has done to education and sports. First, we need to acknowledge that athletic directors face hard choices. However, if we want our grandchildren to enjoy this opportunity then now is the time to promote what our sport offers to thousands every year.

First, swimmers are generally excellent students. They raise the GPA of many a sports program. This is definitely related to the incredible work ethic of swimmers. There is no offseason.

Because they must balance many practice hours with academics they develop skills that translate into the workplace. In other words, swimmers make great employees.

There is a culture of giving back that is fostered at a young age. My daughter’s club team taught her the value of service, whether it was helping with Special Olympics, raising money for breast cancer or collecting food for the hungry. Many carry this culture of service into their community as adults. Swimmers are great citizens.

In other words, it is about more than generating revenue. It’s helping enrich the educational experience of our student-athletes. This makes our academic communities richer, deeper and more well rounded.

What can we do?

There are the obvious answers such as fundraising from the alumni, building in when needed contributions from parents, but that won’t be enough. We need the swimsuit and gear manufacturers to step up.  Yes, colleges and conferences need their financial support – especially those that are struggling. We also need to protect summer, club and high school swimming so the love for this sport is being protected for future generations. And we need our Olympians to speak up and out. Your voices matter. Especially right now.

Let’s challenge higher education athletic departments to stop catching everyone off guard. The latest program cut that I heard about was East Carolina. Surely student-athletes do not deserve to hear about this decision at the start of summer break. Perhaps there needs to be more transparency between ADs, coaches and student-athletes. When a student makes a commitment to swim for a college and university, the responsibility is mutual. Much is required and demanded to be an NCAA swimmer. Honor this commitment with candor and respect.

Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 17 years. Her daughter swims for The University of Lynchburg Hornets.

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Cindy Marstellar

Great article! My daughter swims for ECU and is heartbroken. I don’t think anyone realizes the amount of time training for this sport takes.


Lockdown needs to end – “cure” causes more harm than it “helps”. When virus first came along I got nothing but down votes. Swim swam is leaning more toward freedom and liberty the past couple of weeks.

Rick - former Terp swimmer

Anonymous you don’t have a clue…now that states are reopening the hospital beds are being filled quickly. Soon to be not having any space. If the country opens up today by the end of June this will destroy life as we know it…lockdown is not a “cure” only to slow the infection rate so it does not overburden the health care industry hence if that occurs more deaths.

Oh my

Actually you missed the whole point of this piece. Not everything is political now. There are safe ways for athletes to social distance and train. So I do indeed have a clue. If you want to be political I suggest FB post

Not a Karen

Sorry Rick, but the reports coming out of Georgia (who has been open in phase 2 and open now for 15 days) say otherwise.


Our hospital is now at MAX capacity and ALL ventilators are in use (according to the local news). I fear things may get even worse, then we will all be locked in our house until Santa and Co. come to town.


Can you let us know your location? Here in Texas there is more and more talk about upcoming medical staff layoffs due to low patients numbers in hospitals. Actually there were already some layoffs and I have first hand knowledge since my wife works in healthcare. And Texas fatalities numbers are coming down similar to Georgia.

That’s actually second-hand knowledge. Presuming your wife was in a department or hospital announced layoffs. If she just heard about it, then it’s third-hand knowledge.

Some hospitals in Texas have done layoffs, you’re correct. Others, especially in the larger metros, are filling up:


There is a substantial regionality to this. In some areas, there seems to have been no spike in reopening. In others, there has been a spike.

old swammer

@Tomek Thats not the cause of layoffs in hospitals in Texas or around the country. The reason is the lack of ‘non-essential’ surgeries since most were cancelled due to the pandemic. They are by far the largest money maker for hospitals leaving many with severely decreased income.


Fox News? 😩


Rick you are dangerously incorrect. There will never be a ‘cure’ for this virus. Never. Just like there is no cure for the common cold virus, HIV, H1N1, etc, etc. Those at risk need to stay on lock-down, if they so CHOOSE. It is a free country and we have personal choice. I work with these patients. We had nearly 1000 of them in our hospital at once. It was tough. We are through that. It won’t be like that again and even if it is we are much more prepared for it.


How do you spell H Y S T E R I A!


Not my area. 5 vents in use over 3 hospitals
Fake news!


> freedom and liberty What do you know about freedom and liberty? Even people in North Korea are free to go to bar and get drunk. What else is freedom and liberty for you? Are you free from fear? I don’t think so. You are afraid from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep. You are afraid to lose your job, to lose your insurance, to drive in dangerous parts of your city, to let your children go out to play, you live in fear. You are perpetually in debt. What kind of freedom is that? What freedom do you have? To vote? Look in your choices in November. Freedom of speech and expression? Did you even read… Read more »

Awsi Dooger

Or maybe the smarter people haven’t been here to downvote the ignorance. The World Health Organization is warning of a second peak if areas are stupid enough to reopen early. Oh, I almost forgot…if the WHO says something we don’t like we’ll cut their funding. Classic bully simpleton mentality. The simpletons were wrong about this from the hoax outset and they’ll continue to be wrong every step of the way.

asfd swammer

@Anonymous People are literally dying. Maybe youre not seeing it firsthand and dont grasp the severity as many Americans, but I think losing some sports for middle and upper class white kids to play in college is nearing the bottom of the list of concerns. Have some perspective


So sorry that your daughter was caught in such a bad situation. I hope that she can either land somwhere where her talents will be appreciated or stay at her school and move past this situation and thrive.


Dear Mrs Hale, you are absolutely right. Swimming is health – both physical and mental. The more kids learn to swim well, the more other kids will want to follow their example. Cutting college swimming programs is not savings. Its wasting. Wasting hopes, wasting future achievements and excellent examples.


The article was great but cutting college swimming programs does ultimately create savings. Money is what matters ECU did a terrible job in the timing and really screwed the athletes and staff. A fully funded D1 program costs over a million to run. The only thing keeping many sports from disappearing from college level is the NCAA minimum sports mandate. Most sports programs run deficits and are subsidized by the university and students. Is it really fair for the other students to be burdened with the cost of a program that maybe a dozen students outside the team will ever go see or benefit from? I don’t think it is. Universities have moved far away from their core objective and… Read more »


The reality is reality as each person see it. Sadly our reality as a swimming community is not the reality of mercenary, power hungry, dollar driven, short sighted people who influence many institutions. A great article with some valid points!