Thursday, May 27, 2010

Randy Horner is heading to Miami!

I have known about it for a couple of weeks, and now I guess it is safe to announce it. The cat is out of the bag. My good friend Randy Horner is making the move from the University of New Orleans to Florida International University.

Best of luck with the transition!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Speaking of OLD PEOPLE...

I call Jim Whytlaw the “papa smurf” of Missouri swimming because not only does he have the white hair and the wisdom, but he also sports a red shirt and blue Crocs on deck often and that is where my “child of the 80‘s“ brain goes when I see him wear them. Jim has been a high school coach in Springfield for 37 years. Before that he was an all-conference diver at BYU way back when competitive diving was still done from docks and bridges instead of springboards and platforms. Jim announced his retirement from coaching last night. I found the link on USA Today! I guess it is big news even outside of our little SW Missouri fish bowl.

Jim has had a lot of great teams at Glendale High School. His Win-Loss record is nearly impossible to fathom: 810-58!! His Falcons have finished in the top 4 at the MSHSAA meet 9 times. This year was their highest finish ever for boys and girls. Both teams were second place at the big meet, with an impressive move-up for the boys and a tremendous nail-biter for the girls. The girls’ championship came down to the last relay, where Glendale was edged out by three tenths at the end of one of the most exciting meets I have attended.

Jim has been an NFHS Regional Coach of the Year three times, and in 2008 he was chosen to be their National Coach of the Year. His local accolades are too numerous to list. He has been at the heart of swimming in Missouri for decades. There are pictures of several of Jim’s State Champions and All-Americans on the wall at the John H. Foster Natatorium that most of the teams in SW MO share for practices and meets. In the last few years of his career, he also helped Marshfield High School to start a team by just adding those responsibilities to his already busy workload.

It is easy to say that Coach Whytlaw has touched the lives of many students and swimmers who have gone on to become successful people when they go out into the world. He is a man who understands the place of athletics within the scholastic setting, and is not afraid to speak up to do what is right for kids. I pick on Jim about being old, only because he has become a good friend through coaching and he is quick to make those jokes about himself. He has never had any problem keeping up with us whippersnappers who weren’t even alive yet when he started teaching math.

Congratulations, Jim. May your retirement be as relaxing and rewarding as your coaching career was productive. It has been a joy and an honor to get my butt kicked by you for the last third of your career!

Swimming Videos on Floswimming

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Schooled by the Masters!

Anyone out there remember in 1986, how The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen helped to change everything in comics? Both were stories of superheroes coming out of retirement after disappearing for years. They were groundbreaking for many reasons. They were two of the books that forced the comics industry to grow up. For the first time, comic book authors had acknowledged that these characters must age like we do. Age brings different motivations and a whole new perspective. This was some hard-core fiction.

The picture is from the Dark Knight Returns, and it finally answered one of those long standing questions that comic geeks had argued about for decades: Could Batman defeat Superman? Hell yeah, he can. Even when he is aged and broken down. Even against someone who does not age and is virtually immortal, he was going to finish the fight as the last man standing. His age made the story that much more interesting. His motivations and tactics were very different because of it. He outmatched Supes in a story that screamed of symbolism, not just of the power of a mortal man fighting to uphold an ideal, but of men doing what is right as opposed to doing what is lawful. He was essentially "sticking it to The Man."

At Masters Nationals last weekend, Jon Blank turned in a 59.94 for his 100 scy breaststroke. Jon is 50 years old.

Waitaminnit... 50?

This isn't a comic book. It's for real. Good God, that is amazing! There were three guys in the 45-49 age group under 1:00 as well! So now my goal of getting under a minute in my teens, 20's and 30's doesn't seem like such a big deal. I need to hit it for two more decades to even keep up with these bad boys.

Also, don't get me started about Rich Abrahams and his 22.10 50 free. He is 65. Now that he is retirement age, I expect to see him get even faster. He will have more time to commit to being a bad-ass! I imagine the days of tech-suits are not over for this guy. He will be wearing it as he fights crime when he can't sleep at night because he can't contain the energy of his awesomeness. Maybe he will try something like the McNaughton Trail Run (200 Mile Ultra-Marathon) next.

In my eyes these people, and masters swimmers in general, are doing something heroic. They are making a statement as living symbols of an exciting ideal. They are showing us that age really means nothing and that fitness is a lifetime endeavor. In their own way, these guys are sticking it to The Man. They are telling The Man to get off his lazy butt and stop making excuses for not living his life to the fittest and fullest.

I almost feel bad for writing this. I feel that by marveling at their age, I might be insulting them. They are ignoring their age, and people like me keep bringing it up. I can imagine Dara Torres gets sick of talking about how old she is. Jaring Timmerman probably hates it even more. It's not like I am calling them "Oldy Olsen" and pointing my finger at them, but still... I just imagine that if I interviewed them and said something about how old they are, it might look a lot like that picture of Batman and Superman, with me getting punched in the face instead.

Masters swimming rocks. It seems to me that it is the perfect place to be surrounded by friends who share a love for the sport, in an environment that is both extremely laid-back and hard-core all at the same time.

I think it might be time for me to start a masters team in my neck of the woods. What should I call it?

Monday, May 24, 2010


This note was a part of the CSCAA News- Post Convention Report. It was forwarded to me from someone on the mailing list. I have cut and pasted it here to help spread the word.


Please contact UC Davis Chancellor Katehi (530-752-2065 ) and UC Davis Vice Chanceller Fred Wood ( 530 752-6866) ) let them know that you support reinstating the athletic teams for a one year window in order to allow a committee of faculty, administrators and students to fairly assess other potential budget cuts that could save these sports.

The decision making process has been filled with inequities, mistakes and a lack of transparency:

· UC Davis cut Men's Swimming and Diving, Men's Wrestling, Women's Rowing and Men's Indoor Track giving the teams only a 6 week notice.
· 85% of funding for UCD athletics comes from students voluntary self-tax
· 22% student-athletes cut
· 0% administrators and staff cut
· 1993 there were 1,000 student-athletes w/ $2 million budget
· Fall 2010 520 student-athletes w/students providing $12 million of budget
· Students had previously voted in 1993, 1994 and 2003 to voluntarily self-tax themselves to finance athletics on the condition that no teams be cut.
· Initially the Athletic Department was required to reduce their budget by $1.79 million. The chancellor was able to restore $1 million to the budget and yet the committee persisted in cutting the teams.
· 2 faculty members resigned from the committee due to concerns of fairness.
· Not a transparent or fair process

Friday, May 21, 2010

Totally Jealous... wishing I was at Masters Nats!

I was hoping to make it to Masters Nationals this year, especially since it is the last weekend of the tech era. I have a lot of friends there, some of whom I have never met in person. I was really hoping to make a couple of funny videos while some of the swim bloggers all happened to be in one place. I guess that will have to wait.

If anyone out there has any cool stories or catches anything fun on video that you want to share with the world, shoot me an email and I would love to post! I think the atmosphere of Masters Swimming needs to be promoted and used as a selling point.

Good luck in Atlanta! Have fun and swim fast!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Viking Invasion!?

Invade the village! Conquer! Pillage! Just make sure you are done in time for recess!

How do you know the party has crossed the line into awesomeness?

When you get an amazing picture like this.

Modern Viking invasions aren't quite the same as the ones you learned about in history class. Since I can't head home to Petersburg, Alaska for Mayfest I have to live vicariously through the pictures that everyone back home post on the web. This one almost brought a tear to my eye.


Don't forget to check out the pics at the Little Norway Vikings facebook page. It might not be too late to buy a t-shirt too!

Trailer: Pool Jumpers

I can't believe I never saw this until this week. EPIC.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Swimming lost a good friend

This was posted on the Missouri Valley LSC website on May 13, 2010:

It is with our deep regret and sorrow to announce that Jim Devine, past General Chair and Sanctions Chair for Missouri Valley Swimming, unexpectedly passed away on Wednesday, May 12th, at the young age of 62. Jim was also an associate dean for academic affairs and longtime professor at the University of Missouri’s School of Law. As an ardent supporter and contributor to the sport of competitive swimming within the Missouri Valley LSC, and a life-time member of USA Swimming, Jim volunteered countless hours towards leading and improving our LSC, generously serving as a meet official for many meets, expanding the use of the MVS website, and contributing his knowledge of sports law in the furtherance of our sport. Jim also served on the National Board of Review for USA Swimming and the Counselors Committee. He ultimately received the Lifetime Membership Award from USA Swimming and the ConocoPhillips Service Award. Jim's leadership, contributions and love of our sport will be greatly missed. Jim is survived by his wife, Sharon; his three sons, Zach (Head Coach of the Lawrence Aquahawks), Josh and Noah; and the lasting impression he left on his law students and the entire swimming community. On behalf of the athletes, non-athletes, and parents within Missouri Valley, our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s family and the MVS swimming community for such a huge loss to all.

Jim gave a lot to the sport of swimming and has earned the friendship and respect of a lot of good people. He will be missed.

...and so did The Metal.

On Senior Night for my boys' high school swim team last year, one of my guys shared the story of his first freshman swim practice. He had never been part of a sport where the coach taught "Heavy Metal History Lessons."

Yes. Really. I do that.

My swimmers know as
much about the gods of metal as they do about the stars of swimming. Lemmy Kilmister and Pablo Morales are equals at our facility. The legend of Diamond Head carries the same weight as the 4x 100 Free Relay at Beijing. When we make the horns, it is not the hook 'em horns of Texas... it is the horns of the headbanger.

We lost Ronnie James Dio this weekend. To me it is no coincidence that he passed away during Mayfest. He is being carried by Valkyries across the rainbow bridge to Valhalla as we speak.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Was Bill Boomer the Fifth Beatle?

I originally posted this one back at floswimming. I got an email response from Sean Hutchison about it and was thrilled that he enjoyed it. I am posting it here today because SWTV just re-posted the interview with Bill Boomer that I was referring to in the blog, and they are right-- it is just as relevant today as it was when they recorded it.

I have always had a theory about the Beatles. I am waiting for Paul McCartney to finally let us all in on the joke. I think that when the Beatles realized they were more popular than Jesus, they all decided that they were going to test their fame. They started putting out albums that no one could possibly respect as legitimate music. They wanted to see if we would keep buying their stuff just because they were the Beatles. It was the biggest prank ever pulled.

I mean, think about it… If they weren’t famous, if it were their first album, would you have bought Sgt. Peppers? It was just too out there, man! Just like Radiohead and Tori Amos, they just kept getting weirder as their careers went on. Mean Mr. Mustard? Octopus’s Garden? Yellow Submarine? Hell, by the time Magical Mystery Tour came out John Lennon was dressed like a Walrus yelling koo-koo-kachoo and declaring he was the egg-man on what could have easily been mistaken for a children’s album.

…and we bought it. We took the bait and made them even more larger than life than they were before. We were all suckers. Right?

The flip side of this theory is that when they realized they were unfailingly popular, it gave them the power and confidence to make the music they really wanted to make, without the confines that they had to live with before. They were the first rock band with unlimited creative license. They could do anything and it would sell, so they were effectively given permission to show us a new way to do it. The last few Beatles albums were quite possibly the beginning of everything popular music could be.

How does this relate to swimming? Where in the heck am I going with this? I feel that coaches, when they have had enough success, can become what the Beatles were: free of the trappings of conventional training and technique. They can gain license to really be creative, and that is one of the most beautiful aspects of modern swimming.

I was at the hotel lounge at a coaches’ clinic once and was lucky enough to talk Sean Hutchison into sitting with me so I could pick his brain. He’s a nice enough guy, and I got to hear the Bruce Lee/Ninja Turtle thing first hand. He got into detail about stroke rate and distance from underwater film at the world championships and how he plans workouts around the data. It was good conversation. He thinks outside the box. Some of the things he says make you think he is a pretty weird guy, but at the same time you totally get what he is saying. Eventually Coach Troy from Florida joined in and I started to feel like I was hosting the Chris Farley show, starstruck and bumbling, listening to these guys chat. It was odd how they could have said just about anything and I would have bought it, the same way I bought Sgt Peppers on vinyl, cassette and cd. By the end of the night I was ready to do an 8000yd IM workout attached to a bucket with a $600 suit on.

Just the other day I listened to Bill Boomer rambling about cats, dogs, and advertising while calling Gary Hall the “King of the Cheetahs” and I didn’t hesitate to hail him as a swimming genius the same way I can listen to Bob Dylan make absolutely no sense for an hour and walk away feeling like I just heard poetry straight from heaven. If someone other than Bill Boomer said all those things I would have looked at him like he was trying to sell me a magic flute.

No matter how you look at it, modern training has changed. We are thinking differently in so many ways, and we have our innovators to thank. Swim coaches are some smart people. Thinking back, just imagine if Doc Counsilman had decided to just keep doing the same old stuff? Big brains like him will always keep things fresh and exciting. I just have to wonder… are there more great thinkers out there who just haven’t been discovered yet because they haven’t ever had the chance to work with a blue chip athlete? How much innovation is going on out there that we don’t know about? I am pretty sure there are thousands of really smart coaches out there, and I hope Garrett plans to take his camera to as many small time programs as he does major programs just to see what is going on everywhere. Maybe he will stumble upon the next coach with the ideas to advance our sport.

My chicken/egg question is this: does someone like Sean Hutchison or Bill Boomer become an innovator before he has had national level success? Is Hutch successful because he is creative, or is he creative and willing to try anything because he has been successful? Were the Beatles waiting years for their chance to break out the good stuff, or did they not know they were going to change the entire direction of popular music until the opportunity presented itself and their confidence had reached cosmic levels? If top-notch athletes started transferring into my program, would I change my game plan? Would I get weirder or more traditional? Would I go with “what works” or would I be brave enough to try to find new ways to do it better?

I am just glad that there are people out there who are always moving the sport forward. Our brave innovators are a part of why we are a strong swimming nation. We share ideas. Just think of how many coaches have opened their doors for Garrett and others to come see what they are doing. The sharing of ideas in swimming in the USA and all over the world is amazing. We all want to see the sport improve as much as we want to see our own swimmers do their lifetime best. Ideas are fuel.

Any innovations I might come up with on my own at my current job are based on the fact that my athletes haven’t spent too much time in the water and have a lot of room to improve. That can be a lot of fun. It is probably a good thing I am not sought out as an innovator by other coaches. I tend to get pretty weird right out of the gates. If I were coaching at a top-tier NCAA division 1 program I probably would have skipped “Hard Days Night” and released my “Sgt Peppers” way too early in my career. That might not have been a good thing at all. I could probably have been personally responsible for moving the sport backwards if people actually listened to me. I now know first-hand that I am not as smart as Sean Hutchison. (Although, my Bruce Lee impression is pretty good if I do say so myself.)

Of course, the flip side of all of this is that Bill Boomer, Sean Hutchison and the rest of our big-time coaches could just be completely talking out of their butts and we are all a bunch of suckers. Think about it, eh? It could all be a big prank. They get paid to speak at conventions knowing we are gonna listen because they coach Olympians. Who are we to call them on it? Hutch probably got paid a lot of money to educate us about impressionist painting and jeet-kune-do… and I say “keep it up.” I’ll keep paying for tickets to hear your ideas no matter how far out there you get.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Best Swimming Headline Ever?

Yes, I am having way too much fun with my new cartoon-making iphone app, but I had to do something to celebrate what just might be Craig Lord's best tech-suit-hating headline ever:

Congrats, Ricky. We all hope that the meet in Charlotte gets your pro career off to a great start!

Masters Swimming Saved My Hand

This morning my green tea was too darn hot. I looked around in my car to see if I had something that could help me to not burn my hand on the way across the parking lot. I forgot that someone in Little Rock gave me this as a gift. How awesome is that? If they put this on a t-shirt, I want one! I feel kind of strange using it for green tea instead of a can of PBR, but my school district hasn't had a BYOB day since like the 70's. (just kidding.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Swim Brief, Episode 5!

You gotta admit, that's pretty darn clever. Even Johnny Weissmuller and his girlfriend want to click this link.

Go for 5!

Several swim bloggers have been emailing around and trying to come up with ways we can unite to do something constructive to help save our sport. The first step, is to support some of those groups who are already doing great things. Below is a link to the "Go for 5" program started by swimming supporters at Duquense University. Keep in mind, this is not just a program to save their men's team... this is designed to help raise awareness and develop resources to help save teams from the axe all over the country. Please visit their site and show your support. Put a link on your team website. Hand out their flyer at team events. Add a link on facebook. Spread the word!

Will you Donate to Support the Team?

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Good AD/ Bad AD?

It seems like every time I read about a non-revenue sport being cut at the college level, there is kind of a formula to how and when they do it. I have my Masters Degree in Athletics Administration. I must have missed class on the night they taught us how to be as cowardly as possible when you make a selfish decision and have to face the people you are hurting.

Someone once joked with me that there is a section in the "secret Division 1 AD handbook" that outlines the easiest way to diffuse the uproar when you cut a sport. I think it goes something like this:
  1. Announce the decision to cut or terminate the non-revenue program on a Friday afternoon, preferably at the beginning of a three day weekend or at the end of a semester to ensure that there will be minimal attendance, thus proving your point that no one really cares anyway.
  2. Don't ever say the words "cut" or "terminate" in the meeting.
  3. Do not look anyone in the eye or be sincere in anything you say.
  4. Be careful about blaming budget crises or title IX for the cut, as it may lead them to think that all they have to do is raise money to bring their miserable little team back. Blame someone else; just be careful about presenting a problem that could be solved with alumni support.
  5. Dance around questions and don't make straight-forward statements in the meeting. Those are more effective in the newspaper.
  6. Make your exit as quickly and cowardly as possible. Get out of there before they start crying.
  7. Don't worry. Those big screen tv's in the football locker room are going to make all of this worth it.
This quote was in an article about the Clemson cut:

Pragmatism didn’t play well with the swimmers who were still on campus at the end of the school term. Of the 59 men and women on the rosters, less than one-third attended the meeting. Phillips said email was sent to every swimmer to be followed by a letter detailing the university’s plan.

Read how it really went down in this excerpt from an "inside scoop" article from SwimUtopia:

They told our coach to call a meeting on Friday night after finals, after which most kids had gone home. Of 65 swimmers and divers, there were probably 15 of us there to hear the news. Terry Don Phillips walked in and spent 15 minutes dancing around it, refusing to actually say the word "cut". He finally said after 15 minutes we are phasing out swimming. A swimmer raised his hand and said "So you mean your cutting us?" Terry Don finally came out with it after 15 or 20 some minutes.” Harry went on to say, “once the administration finally made their announcement the entire team and coaching staff was taken by complete surprise and was blindsided.

Now, those are the bad AD's. I understand that the above post is a harsh take. Not all Athletic Directors are cold and callous as I have played here and often the decision is not theirs alone. I understand that sometimes cuts do have to be made. I know an Athletic Director at a University who had been a program builder from the beginning and was forced to cut two teams during the last year of a great career. It was a very stressful time for this person and it was not easy. The orders came from higher up that it would be cuts and not an "across the department" shared budget decrease that would be enacted. This person fought to keep the programs that were eventually cut and it was heartbreaking to have to go through with it. Retirement came soon after.

I feel that with Clemson, as it was with Washington and their repeated failed attempts at cutting their program before finally ending it, these cuts are different. They can easily be viewed as cold and callous. They are against the spirit and ideals that the NCAA is founded upon. Terry Don Phillips was also the Athletics Director at the University of Arkansas when they cut their men's swimming program. In my opinion, that is no coincidence.

I do not have a vendetta against Athletic Directors or even the NCAA. There are some good people out there in these positions. People who understand the ideals of "educational opportunities through athletics;" people who feel that the more opportunities a school can offer, the better; people who understand the dangers of the "arms race" of college spending and the poison of modern sports marketing; people who value non-revenue sports as important athletic endeavors that help to create a positive college environment and help to send students into the world more prepared; people who were once athletes and coaches, who understand where those of us who still appreciate "pure" sports get our perspective.

Unfortunately, it seems, there aren't enough of them out there to put a stop to the madness. It seems that those people are being run out of our business and replaced by leaders not unlike the CEO's of major corporations; people who compete in a system of greed and bottom lines, rather than character building and fair play. If the ideals of the NCAA were upheld, those teams like Clemson, who are active in the community, who are outstanding students, who give their time and their hearts to represent their schools, would not be cut. At least not without some major crisis that forced it to happen.

As a coach, I preach that in sports as in life, the journey is more important than the destination, and that what you learn when striving for excellence is more important than the trophies and medals you earn as a result. Wouldn't it make sense for the people in charge of college sports to hold high that same ideal? The NCAA serves a high and noble purpose, and I feel I have to stand up and say that non-revenue sports are being pushed aside by something sinister that has corrupted a system that embodies an ideal that I hold sacred.

How does the commercial go?:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Better Way to Look at the NCAA Hiring of Mark Emmert?

Readers of my blog might automatically assume I have a vendetta against football, Athletic Directors and the NCAA in general. I do not. I have issues with the "arms race" and the apparent disregard for the value of sports that don't bring in money that inherently comes with it. From the perspective of a mid-major, non-revenue sport alumni, the current trends we see all too often in the modern sports landscape go against everything the NCAA is supposed to be about. More money somehow leading to less opportunities is in juxtaposition of the ideal of creating educational opportunities through athletics. Cutting sports makes no sense when college athletics has so much more money than in the past.

I posted recently about Mark Emmert becoming the new leader of the NCAA. It worries me not only because he is coming from a major school who cut swimming, but also because some quotes from his initial press conference can be taken as a statement about the "arms race." He basically acknowledged that he understands why it is a philosophical concern for the institution but that he doesn't really see a problem with it.

I contacted Ryan Stratton, one of the leaders in the fight to reinstate Washington Swimming, to see what his take is on the former UW President becoming head of the NCAA. I asked if swimmers should be worried. He basically put me in my place by saying that my reaction might not be the most appropriate course to take if we want to make a real change. His wise response is here:

I've always had a lot of respect for him. He certainly didn't insist that UW keep their swimming programs, but he has always been a promoter of college athletics, within the context of a quality higher education.

There have been a few people asking similar questions or insinuating that perhaps he played a bigger role in the UW decision, which I don’t believe to be accurate. I have not had any personal conversations with him, so I really can't provide too much insight. I have no reason to believe that he would not work to maintain and enhance the goals of the NCAA, which is to provide opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the collegiate level. He has been successful at every position he has held and I think he will be successful at the NCAA.

The swimming community (and other non-revenue sports) should target an awareness campaign so that he understands the challenges we face. Putting him on the defensive before he starts can only work against us. Perhaps his work at the NCAA will help him realize that the decision that he supported at UW was a poor one. Swimming should serve as an example of how to be both a student and an athlete, which is currently a struggle for higher-profile sports.

Kudos, Ryan. Thank you for giving us another angle from which to see this. If all of the non-revenue sports could get together and take on what you suggest, maybe someday it could lead to real action at the national level. Thank you for letting me post this.

I can't help but still worry about our new leader, but Ryan is right. A hostile reaction from the beginning might only serve to hurt our cause.

Noel Strauss

Chas Morton. Cynthia Woodhead. Michelle Richardson. Mary T. Meagher. Jesse Vassallo. Bobby Hackett. Dara Torres. Jeff Kostoff. Troy Dalbey. Tiffany Cohen. What do they all have in common?

They are the only individuals left who have held on longer than this guy.

In Little Rock last weekend, I stumbled upon a masters meet. Someone pointed out that I was looking at a national record holder. I thought it was going to be a masters record holder. Silly me. I had no idea I was about to meet a guy whose name I have known since I was just a junior swim-geek.

I will let him tell you about the record he holds. I am just thrilled that I got to meet him and see him swim. Enjoy.

These darn kids don't know how hard life is supposed to be!

Sick of kids expecting everything to be easy and giving up when it is not?

Tired of kids thinking they are special without ever having to do the work to earn the recognition?

Don't you wish you could knock that ridiculous self-esteem from the smug face of that kid has no clue about what he is doing but still thinks he knows better than you?

Do you want someone to blame for the sense of entitlement of today's youth?

Well, take your pick: You can either blame
Mr. Rogers, or the Karate Kid.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Take on the Clemson Cut

When we lost UCLA and Arkansas, they pointed at Title IX. With Washington and UC Davis, it was a budget crisis. When cutting mens and womens tennis and mens cross country, indoor and outdoor track, Missouri State wasn’t even afraid to admit that they are trimming off the non-revenue sports to carry the bare minimum the NCAA allows. It was a business decision. They were re-prioritizing to reallocate funds so they could keep up with the arms race in football and basketball. That is the trend these days, whether Athletic Directors like to admit it or not.

This time we are losing Clemson; another big fish. When I step back and look at what it means for my sport, this one scares me more than any of those other cuts.

Braden at The Swimmers’ Circle made the point that it makes sense for the University to make this move. Their swimming hasn’t been as successful as they would like, and they decided recently to not build a long course pool, which is something that the teams who are successful at the national level have. Every coach has pitched for a long course facility. We all like to say that everyone else has one and that we are at a disadvantage without it… but really? Cut a program just because they don’t have one?

Oh yeah. Clemson might start women’s golf in the future too. It is being looked at. It might be a better fit.
Whatever… they can rationalize it however they want.

I am sure that when Clemson’s decision makers weighed out the pro’s and con’s and looked over their spreadsheets it all made sense, but don’t the intangibles matter at least a little? Surely, those swimmers had good grades. Surely they represented the school well. By nature, with the hours that swimmers put in, is there any doubt that they put a lot of heart into the program? Does the team not have tradition and history that count for something? Their first meet was in 1919. They have had a mens team since the 40's and women since the 70's. Just more salt in the wound, I guess.

I have made the point in the past that we are at war, and the hardest part of that war is that we have to win in comparison with those who should be our closest allies in the fight: the other non-revenue sports. When schools are forced to cut, we have to make sure we have more reasons to be spared than they do. The difference this time is that Clemson wasn’t forced to cut. They just didn’t see any value in keeping us around. Swimmers, apparently, aren’t worth the money.

This decision sets a very scary precedent. Major school. No pressure from title IX. No budget crisis. Braden might be right. This was just some administrators getting together in a room and making a reasonable and rational decision that made sense for their school… but we still lost. They just didn’t see any reason to keep the swimmers around.

To me this feels as though they essentially said, “why are we bothering with this?” and dumped the program the way I might brush clutter off of my desk when I clean my office.

I have never felt that swimming was so expendable. My heart sinks with the thought of it.