My name is Emily Olson (Burns) and I am a 2011 graduate of the William and Mary
Women’s Swimming program. In high school, after having dedicated the greater
portion of my years of life to progressing as a swimmer, less than great coaches and
feeling burnt out almost lead to my stepping out of the sport. I visited countless
colleges, went on recruiting trips, and continued to feel like I wasn’t sure what I
wanted until visiting William and Mary. I left my recruiting trip without a doubt in
my mind that this was where I wanted to be and the team I wanted to be a part of.
Being a swimmer at William and Mary is special. You come on campus as a
freshman, in my case knowing no one, and are immediately embraced by over 60
teammates ready and willing to make your college experience better than you ever
imagined. In addition to that, you are blessed with a coaching staff that wants to see
you succeed in every aspect of life, both in and out of the pool. Matt Crispino was
everything and more I could have hoped for in a college coach. If not for William and
Mary Swimming, my life would have been devoid of his positive influence. I am
forever grateful to have had the opportunity to swim under him. If you need proof,
not just any coach would have driven from Williamsburg to Charleston to be at your
wedding only to turn around the next day to make the drive back. He is not just a
coach, but a friend, as well. Why would the administration at William and Mary be
willing to take away the opportunity for other students to benefit from such
If you listen to the testimonials of other swimmers, you are likely to find a pattern in
their referring to their team as family. I am no exception. When you become a
member of the William and Mary Swimming team, men’s or women’s, you become
part of a family. It is not a women’s swimming family exclusive from the men or vice
versa. We are ONE family - men’s and women’s swimming together with our
coaches. But, again, this is something special. The actions of the William and Mary
athletic department to remove our programs puts in full view their lack of
understanding regarding what this program offers, not only to the swimmers who
are part of it, but to the school and community as a whole. When people ask us what
we loved most about our time at William and Mary, I feel confident that our most
memorable moments weren’t in the classroom. Our most memorable moments were
in the pool, in the training room, at community events, living with teammates, on
team trips working harder than we knew we could, and in making history for the
College and its athletic programs. We chose William and Mary because of the
opportunity to be a part of this family. To remove this facet of the growth one can
experience at William and Mary is to steal opportunity from any student who wishes
to swim at an elite educational institution.
To the coaches and teammates I had the privilege of competing with: THANK YOU.
Thank you for being my motivation to get up at 5am for practice after studying most
of the night. Thank you for making me get in cold water in the morning so that I
could stand on that podium at the end of the season. Thank you for being there for
me in my darkest moments and for standing beside me in some of my happiest. My
life would not be complete without any of you. Some of my greatest friendships are
due to being a part of this family and that is something that cannot be taken away.
To those who clearly do not understand what it is like to be a part of the William and
Mary Swimming family, I ask that you work to consider if the minimal amount you
feel is being gained by cutting this extremely successful program is in any way equal
to the amount gained by being part of it.
One Tribe. One Family. Forever.
Emily Olson (Burns) ‘11