The NCAA Screws Up… Again

By Rhi

If collegiate swimmers thought NCAA rules were dumb before, just wait until they get their hands on the article that has been posted on about the new rule they have just enforced. Collegiate swimmers can no longer compete in the same heats as high school swimmers, as now stated in Bylaw, in order to cut down on recruiting violations. The law has been suspended until March 27 so that the NCAA can conduct its championship meets in several sports, but USA Swimming’s Spring Nationals starts on March 27.

At the Missouri Grand Prix, a couple of us got to see this rule in effect first hand. Before the first day of prelims, the entire weekend’s heat sheets had to be reseeded to make sure that no high school competitor would be in the same heats as a collegiate competitor. Some swimmers were swimming by themselves or even in heats with boys and girls combined. When a high school swimmer and a college swimmer both made finals, an extra heat of finals was added to let those swimmers swim in the finals they fairly qualified for. Even though there weren’t many of these heats because most of the people at the Grand Prix were out of college because of the college championship season, it was still a disaster. I can only imagine what it will be like at nationals if the meet is not exempt from this rule.

Those of us who swim know how hard it is to swim in a heat by yourself. You have no one to push you; no one to race. Some of us do better under the pressure of having competition next to us. What is this ultimately going to do to our sport? Destroy it! Probably not, but it will be more of a hindrance than it will be helpful. What the NCAA needs to do is make this a sport specific rule.

This is just another example of how little this country cares about swimming and how much attention actually gets paid to us. The light at the end of the tunnel is that we have Phil Whitten, the executive director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), fighting hard to show the NCAA that this rule could devastate our sport. There will be a coaches meeting held this Wednesday in an effort to convince the NCAA that this needs to be a sport specific rule. Let us all pray Whitten knows how to schmooze the rule makers.