The University of Lynchburg (formerly Lynchburg College) in Lynchburg, VA, will be adding both men’s and women’s swimming for the 2019-2020, the school announced yesterday. Both teams will compete as part of the Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Last year, Washington & Lee University, located just an hour way from Lynchburg in Lexington, VA, won both the men’s and women’s championships at the ODAC championships.
Lynchburg’s press release indicated that no coach has yet been hired, but the school will begin a nation-wide search immediately.
While it seems like news of NCAA swimming programs being eliminated have become all too common over the past few years, the state of Virginia has actually been bucking the trend. As we reported last year, Randolph College, Roanoke College, and Virginia Wesleyan University all recently debuted or revived programs, while Bridgewater and Emory and Henry Colleges both added men’s teams.
All of those programs are Division III, so while they may not provide much hope for high school swimmers who have their heart set on a swimming-specific scholarship, it does serve as a reminder there are still plenty of places to swim on the NCAA level in college.
Full press prelease here:
Lynchburg, Va. — University of Lynchburg and director of athletics Jon Waters are pleased to announce the addition of men’s and women’s swimming for the 2019-20 academic year and will immediately begin a national search for a director of men’s and women’s swimming.
Starting next year, Lynchburg will sponsor 24 varsity intercollegiate athletic programs and join the other 13 swimming programs competing in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
“Central Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region produce scholar-athletes each year who are looking for a swimming opportunity as part of a dynamic athletic department like ours,” Waters said. “We are excited to be able to add swimming to our athletic offerings and look forward to preparing for competition in 2019.”
The Hornets will train and compete at one of the Lynchburg area’s many outstanding nearby facilities and will finalize a home for the program in the coming weeks.
Swimming is not a sport new to Lynchburg. The institution offered men’s swimming from 1950-71 and women’s swimming between 1964-71.
The Hornet men competed in both the Mason-Dixon and Little Eight conferences during their time on campus and even had an All-American, Hank Mierzwa (’72), who competed at the NAIA national championship meet in 1971.
Lynchburg’s women finished as high as sixth in the Virginia state meet.
In 2017-18, Lynchburg again began to offer swimming on the club sports level and experienced immediate success. Sophomore Alyssa Reed (Forest, Va.) qualified for the College Club Swimming Championships in Atlanta, Ga. in five events. Reed finished sixth in the 50-meter butterfly and 50-meter backstroke at the national event, also swimming in the 100-meter individual medley and 50-meter freestyle.
“I’m really excited about swimming at Lynchburg,” Reed said, “because this department and the Division III mission are exactly what the student-athlete experience should be about.”
Her times and those of some of her club teammates compared favorably to those being swum in the ODAC currently.
“I feel like we have the talent on Lynchburg’s club team to be able to come in and compete in the ODAC right away,” Reed added.
The league features 10 schools that offer both men’s and women’s swimming programs in full-members Bridgewater, Emory & Henry, Ferrum, Guilford, Randolph, Randolph-Macon, Roanoke, Virginia Wesleyan, and Washington and Lee and associate-member Greensboro. Hollins and Sweet Briar sponsor women’s programs, while Hampden-Sydney offers men’s swimming.