A Dose of Preventative Medicine
In this current era of NCAA Swimming Programs at risk, its important to have widespread community support for your collegiate program, and just as important to have a plan in place to make sure the movers and shakers at your College or University know that your program has that widespread support.
The relevant question to ask is, what is your University or College doing to build swimming (and support for swimming) in your local community and in your state? Every university that has lost a swim program wished for and sought “community support” when it was threatened. In almost every case, that support was too little too late to help save the swim program.
Instead, ask yourself what you can do to support and help grow swimming in your community and state? Even simple things, like emailing a college meet schedule to every club in your area so the club coaches can encourage club swimmers to come to your college meets is important. Can you host swimmers clinics? Can you host coaches clinics? Can you show up to hand out medals at local swim meets? Can you sponsor “High School Swimmers of the Week” in your state on your collegiate website? Can you meet with club parents to help educate them on the process and needs of college admission for swimmers far before the parents face it firsthand?
The question is, what are you willing to contribute?
If you are willing to contribute a lot, you can reasonably expect a lot of help in letting your administration know how important your collegiate swim program is to the community and state. If you are “too busy” to contribute anything except the built-in opportunity to swim at your university or college, then understand that calling for “broad based community support” when your program is under threat of being dropped, is likely to fall on deaf ears.
Be a contributor, or be lonely when it comes to needing a contribution.
And if you read this and say to yourself “it can’t happen to us,” I’d only ask you to discuss with your out of work colleagues how many of them saw the “end of program” train coming down the tracks?
John Leonard, ASCA.
Jim Wood, Berkeley Aquatic Club, USA Swimming President.