The just posted a “20Q” interview with two of their international swimming seniors, Ciro Sauaia and Stacey MacDonald on their athletics website. They did an excellent job, and showed a tremendous amount of pride for their school and their sport. While I love to promote my bears, it is not the only reason I mention it here. One of the first things they said in the interview was about the team atmosphere in college programs and that they wished the men and women could swim together at the same conference meet. The women are in Missouri Valley and the men are in the MAC. This ties into a current topic in the swim blog-osphere.
John Leonard, the President of the American Swimming Coaches Association, recently appeared on the Morning Swim Show to present the possibility of a combined NCAA Division 1 Championship. I was a little disappointed that the discussion in the comments section never went anywhere. Fortunately, the forums at Collegeswimming.com did, and once you sift through the junior high level sexist humor, there were actually some pretty valid arguments posted from both sides. Some of the comments:
“Everyone is missing biggest drawback of a combined championship, that being a guaranteed reduction in the number of participants.”
“The meet should not be combined. Each meet has tradition and special meaning to whom ever has been there.”
“I've been on deck at plenty of combined conference meets (SECs, Big 12s) and plenty of separate meets ( , Womens NCAA, Mens NCAA). I think the combined SEC meet has the best atmosphere of any. Certainly no one (outside a few narcissists perhaps) is annoyed that they have to watch women's swimmers. The fans certainly cheer loud enough.”
“Bottom line is there aren't really any venues that can hold that number of swimmers. IUPIU is the only one that comes to mind, but no one wants to go to Indy every year in march. Plus, I thought even that was crowded this summer. And face it, our sport doesn't have the pull to get a set up like they had for trials every year.”
“The only legitimate reason I have heard against a combined meet, which in fact comes from the women's side, is that the times of the men's swimming make the women's swims seem less significant and so they don't want to do it.“
In his interview, Leonard addressed the facility issue by stating that Myles Brand, former head of the NCAA was on board with the idea, and that they had already discussed having it at a temporary facility similar to the Trials in Omaha. They also addressed the idea that there would be even less qualifiers when he mentioned the idea that conference champions with B cuts might be invited to the meet and that the NCAA would accommodate by increasing the number of invitations to the meet.
In my opinion, if they can pull it off, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to. The timeline would be an issue, but if they swam the prelims in 8 lanes at either end of a 50 m x 25y facility, they could combine finals in the middle. That does present a problem for the schools who don’t have a separate coaching staff for the men and the women, but most of the programs with a large number of qualifiers do.
Division 2 runs a combined four-day format and that is a selling point when they are recruiting athletes. Space is more of a concern for D1, but it could be done at Indy… at least until a feasibility study could be done to see if spending the cash on a temporary pool in a large stadium would be a wise investment. It is not like the NCAA can’t afford it. TV contracts for football and basketball have increased exponentially. Their cut has to have increased enough to trickle down and help the swimmers out some.
Come on, guys. Let’s give this topic the discussion it deserves. Give me some thoughts in the comments section. Why do you, or don’t you, want to see the combined D1 meet happen? Let’s give the big brains some opinions to chew on while they are trying to decide if it is worth the effort. Give the comments section some love!