I am a graduating student from Trent University and I swam on the varsity swim team this past year. I find it incredibly disappointing that the varsity swim team has been cut. I personally feel that the Trent Athletics Department has neglected the swim team all year, and I haven’t felt they demonstrated any interest or support for the sport.
This is even more disappointing when I talk to other varsity athletes (such as rugby players) who have had nothing but positive experiences in their relationship with the athletic department. The swimmers on this team are a bunch of dedicated hard working individuals who enjoy racing. Many of the swimmers have worked their entire lives to get to where they are today and have set their sights on qualifying for meets such as CIS next year. Now that the team has been cut many of these athletes will be throwing away years of training, and will not be able to achieve their goals.
For those of you who do not understand the sport of swimming, I will explain the kind of training that goes in to it. Many competitive swimmers start training when they are very young (ages 6-10). By the time they reach high-school most swimmers are typically training anywhere between 20 and 30 hours a week for 10-11 months of the year. Being a successful swimmer requires complete dedication of time, and determination. Races can be lost by hundredths of a second, so swimmers work hard at conditioning their bodies to go faster for longer with less oxygen every time they practice. Training usually involves variations of weights, dry land conditioning, and of course swimming.
The Trent Swim Team has many members who have been adhering to this kind of training regime and came to Trent with the expectation that they would be able to continue this. Unfortunately the swim team was only granted 7.5 hours of pool time per week (most universities grant closer to 20 for their athletes).
Despite this our team has still done very well. This year at OUAs every swimmer was able to achieve personal best times and one of our swimmers made it to finals. As far as swimming is concerned getting personal best times and making qualifying times is an achievement. Even if you do not place first, it still means that you are pushing yourself past your limits every time.
As an individual with over 10 years of competitive swimming experience I know that I strive to push my physical limits every time I race. That’s the most rewarding part of the sport for me, and for many other swimmers. We as athletes like to test our boundaries, and I think I can say the same for the rest of the Trent Swim Team. It is sad that the Athletics Department doesn’t understand that about swimming. I think that if they understood the sport they would not be so willing to cut a team that promotes determined, dedicated, competitive individuals who are constantly pushing their limits and pushing through injuries.
I think it would be beneficial for the Trent Athletics Department to get more involved in ALL of the varsity teams before cuts are made based on ideas such as “gender equity”, “potential for future success”, “being competitive”, and varsity as “an elite sport activity”.
What does not make sense to me about this criteria is that if I am not mistaken, most varsity teams compete at a college level. The Athletics Department believes that successful varsity programs will attract top athletes. However that is not true if our varsity teams compete at a college level. Regardless of how well our teams do in a college level, top athletes will go to larger schools with better funding and where athletes compete at a university level. The Trent Swim Team was competing at a university level, promoted gender equity (it is co-ed), had potential for more success, and was attracting talented athletes (who I believe will be declining their offers to Trent now).
It is my hope that the athletes of this team will be able to continue training and reaching their goals. I think it would be very sad and against the ideals of sport to allow years and years of intense training to go to waste. I believe that the Trent Varsity Swim Team has incredible potential to grow, and continue to be successful. It is disappointing that it has been cut at a time when so much progress was made.
It is also my hope that the Athletics Department start to become more involved in all the varsity teams, even the ones like swimming that they may or may not have an appreciation for.