As a member of Tribe swimming from the last four years, it has become very evident to me that one of the biggest things we take pride in is doing MORE with LESS. We do not have a great training facility, locker room or operating budget, one of the lowest among all sports at the school. Despite that, we continually succeed in the pool and WIN. In the fall of 2019, W&M athletics released a strategic plan to enhance our school’s competitive success and national exposure while maintaining high academic standards. Mentioned in this strategic plan was a note on the swim teams’ training facility… “The swimming teams currently share space in the Recreation Center with recreational sports. The current facility lacks both a diving well and dedicated locker rooms, and there is very limited spectator space. A new aquatics facility is important to continue the team’s success at the current CAA Championship level and to serve as a springboard for meeting the program’s ambitions at the NCAA Championship meet level.” Upon receiving this news, our team had immediate concerns on the future of our program. The men’s and women’s team met with the athletic director, Samantha Huge, face-to-face to express our concerns and the future of our program. She reassured us that Tribe Swimming was not going anywhere and reiterated how impressed she was of our accomplishments given our facility and resources. We were betrayed. W&M athletics has now decided to remove Men’s and Women’s swimming among 5 other teams. In the press release to announce this decision, W&M stated “these changes will allow William & Mary Athletics to reach its goal of fielding nationally competitive programs across our entire department with sustainable success.” The swim team has proven undoubtedly that we can compete at the national level without new facilities and a constantly decreasing budget. In the past year we have had 5 swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials, 4 compete at the LC National Championships and produced a relay ranking 16th in the NCAA and had its first ever NCAA championship qualifier. All these accomplishments in the past year are now being thrown back in our face, saying that we are not “nationally competitive.” One of my most proud accomplishments has been representing W&M on a national level the past 2 years. I took extreme pride in being able to walk and compete against the power 5 conference teams and Olympic athletes. William & Mary provided our teams with minimal resources, yet we still achieved access to NCAA and national level competition. While these “promises” were made before the existing global crisis, I do not believe that cutting two teams that run on a half a million dollar budget combined(generous estimation), that achieve so much academic and athletic success, can be further benefiting another program enough to outweigh the loss of the swim teams. I did not choose W&M for its fancy and top-notch facilities, in fact if that were the only deciding point W&M would hardly get any recruits. It was my belief in the coaching staff, the closeness of the team, and the pride the team took with what they do, given what they had that made me choose W&M.
Ian Thompson, Class of 2020
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