To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Lukas Schiller. I’m a second-year Concurrent Education student at Trent University and a member of the Trent University Varsity Swim Team. I am writing to you in regards to the proposed cancellation of the Trent Varsity Swim Team as per the changes to the Varsity Athletics Program.
Firstly, I would like to comment on the progress that I have seen firsthand that the Varsity Swim Team has experienced throughout the past two years of my participation on the team. The Trent Varsity Swim Team’s size underwent a 39% increase from the 2011-2012 Season to the 2012-2013 Season. With most of our new additions being first-year students, this population increase is expected not only to remain steady, but exponential. At the 2012 OUA Championships, the team scored a mere 20 points, as opposed to the 2013 OUA Championships where the team scored 54 points. It is worthy to note that one of the team’s top two swimmers was injured and did not compete at this competition; hence it can be assumed that the point total would have been substantially higher. It is undeniable that progress is quickly being made and this has not been without the hard work displayed day in and day out by each of the athletes and coaches on this team.
I would secondly like to comment on the nature of the sport of competitive swimming, as I am constantly and unfortunately reminded by incidences such as this proposed cancellation that the sport is not appreciated nor understood as fully as other sports. Our training regimen is as follows: five 1.5 hour swimming practices (with an additional & optional practice added at the end of the week), and three weightroom/strength and conditioning sessions per week. One-hundred percent attendance is mandatory in order to remain on the team.
During the swimming practices, we train through various heart rate systems, technique patterns, as well as enduring muscular and cardiovascular conditioning, and on average our practices reach a total distance of 5000 meters. Nearly all of our swimmers have achieved personal best times this season even after going through club training (training that we have done our entire lives before varsity) regimens that often surmount to 24 hours of training per week, compared to what we are now able to train with varsity; around 11 hours.
These high amounts of training are necessary due to the sport of swimming being revolved around conditioning the human body to adapt to an unfamiliar environment (water). This should prove, if anything, that we make each practice count, putting in all of our effort into each practice to make up for lower amounts of pool time than we are used to/ than other varsity teams get. We are perfectly fine with these training opportunities and do not ask for any more from the Athletics Department; we know that through hard work and dedication we can achieve great things as we have done this season and as we had planned to do even better for the next.
Thirdly, I would like to compare the circumstances of the Varsity Swim Team to the other teams that Trent University offers (I would not normally do this, but seeing as the Varsity Swim Team is being treated as lesser than the other teams in terms of the threat of cancellation I feel it is necessary to demonstrate our team’s worth). The Trent Varsity Swim Team is one of the few Trent Varsity Teams that actually competes at the university level, as opposed to competing against colleges.
As I have seen personally, many people and organizations throughout Ontario have commented on the unjust decision to replace this established team with teams and clubs that have an uncertain future. In the update that was released regarding changes to the varsity program, it was stated that “…the varsity line-up will be reduced from 19 to 17 men’s and women’s teams, with the elimination of two co-ed teams and the addition of two women’s teams. This change will meet the demand for gender equity…”. This, as noticed by many, is a completely contradictory statement. Eliminating two co-ed teams in order to create two single-gender teams does not promote gender equity.
I would now like to comment on the personal implications that this decision to completely eliminate the Varsity Swim Team has had on me. I, as many others on the Varsity Swim Team, have trained since I was a very young age of 6 years old towards my dream of qualifying for Senior National Championships and CIS Championships (the qualification standards are very alike).
Having qualified for both Age Group National Championships and Eastern Senior National Championships, I was expecting to finally reach my goal next year. I also know that my teammate and Male Captain, Adrian Forsythe, planned to do the same thing. Considering we are both mere hundredths of a second from qualifying, we had planned on pushing each other to our limits next year to have the Trent Varsity Swim team have two CIS qualifiers; the most that the team has had in nearly ten years.
I only mention this because it seems as though the Athletic Department has immorally gone against its theme of recognizing that Trent University is a small university and that gradual process is key in reaching the Athletic Program’s goals, in exchange for solely judging a team based upon its success. As many have pointed out, it is unfair to deem a Varsity Team that places in the lower ranks against other universities as worthless (and subject to elimination) in exchange for new teams that have an uncertain future and teams that compete in the higher ranks at the college level.
In addition, my other teammates have had their own dreams that they have pursued and trained daily for many years and if this cancellation is approved, they will have nowhere to turn to. I would also like to mention that I have friends that have accepted their offer to Trent University solely on the basis that it has a swim team where they can continue their quest to achieve their goals that they have long been working for.
It has been said that this cancellation has been on the basis of budget, but I have seen numerous examples on various social media sites and other communication platforms of people who do not believe this to be the only reason and believe that this would be entirely unjust. One reason for this is that the swim team has offered everything that it can to balance the budget. We have done multiple fundraisers throughout the year (with each team member spending valuable hours upon hours to perform) and have tried desperately to work with the Athletics Department to achieve a compromise. In addition to this, a start-of-the-year registration fees per athlete have been proposed, which would eliminate any additional budget problems; it seems that this has been ignored.
Overall, this is an unfair and very unpopular action that crushes the dreams of many high-caliber athletes that have put years of work into their sport, and deems other teams as more worthy than our team. I am constantly reminded by Trent alumni at various varsity events (such as the athletic banquet) that the basis of Trent’s Varsity program is equal treatment of all teams, hard work, dedication, and the pursuance of goals. If this cancellation is finalized, it will be a public demonstration of a rapid change of heart on behalf of the Athletics Department and a destruction of the true values of sport as well as many dreams that years of hard work has been put into.
Thank you for your time and consideration,