History of Swimming & Diving

So maybe what you want to say (about swimming) doesn't quite fit into one of our other categories. This is the place for you.

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a dude
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History of Swimming & Diving

Post by a dude » Fri Mar 14, 2014 5:14 pm

Is there anyone on these boards who can explain the history behind swimming and diving being lumped together in NCAA competition? The internet does not want to yield information on this subject easily.

Any compelling arguments for why the NCAA should continue to score them together, other than the classic "that's just the way it is"?

Do divers want their own championship that they can compete for?

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N Dynamite
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Re: History of Swimming & Diving

Post by N Dynamite » Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:03 pm

I'm going to guess that while they might like their own championships, the reality is that most colleges would drop diving (or never add it) if it were its own sport due to cost of insurance. NCAA rules help it continue to exist. On the other hand, it's possible schools would drop swim teams if they felt they could use a 6 person dive team (that doesn't ask for $250 suits for each competitor every year) to satisfy title 9 requirements. Be careful what you wish for...

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Re: History of Swimming & Diving

Post by a dude » Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:50 pm

Are there any recent examples of Division III schools dropping teams that had a consistent roster size at a competitive level?

You're thinking of the cost of athletics in a Division I model, where the athletes are a small percentage of the overall student body, and don't always pay full tuition. At many Division III institutions, the student-athletes can make up 15-30% of the student population and are paying tuition. The $250 suit isn't necessarily an expense that the school can avoid without repercussions. While they might be able to attract a student who they don't have to buy a suit for, it is not a guaranteed prospect. The suit is the college's cost of business of attracting that student, it can almost be viewed as an additional discount to that student's tuition instead of a pure expense. Title IX might be a valid concern in some cases, but the idea that a rule change with diving being scored separate would have an appreciable effect on the number of swim teams is a little absurd. There aren't enough divers interested in competing in college to create that scenario.

The number of people participating in swimming in high school has been increasing, especially on the men's side since 2008. Many D3 colleges have been scrambling to add women's lacrosse to attract students from a rapidly growing market in the past few years, but men's high school swimming has added nearly the same # of participants since 2008. We may not have seen an increase in the number of teams at the same level as women's lacrosse, but there were many more men's swim teams to start with.

There are always going to be athletic departments that make decisions that we don't agree with. There are already many schools that do not include diving because of the cost of insurance, which was not the best competitive decision for the school but the decision was still made. Should the rules of swimming competition try to deter these decisions from being made, or should they strive to create the competition that makes the most sense?

I don't think swimming is in a precarious state of existence at the D3 level. Football participation has been dropping at the high school level in the past few years, and I don't foresee football reversing this trend with any findings about concussions. Soccer's huge growth has slowed way down, I'm not sure about the trends in basketball participation. Still, swimming is in a good spot as a sport in the big picture.

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Re: History of Swimming & Diving

Post by Chris Knight » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:26 am

N Dynamite wrote:On the other hand, it's possible schools would drop swim teams if they felt they could use a 6 person dive team (that doesn't ask for $250 suits for each competitor every year) to satisfy title 9 requirements. Be careful what you wish for...

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Miami did just that.
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Re: History of Swimming & Diving

Post by a dude » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:06 am

Chris Knight wrote:
N Dynamite wrote:On the other hand, it's possible schools would drop swim teams if they felt they could use a 6 person dive team (that doesn't ask for $250 suits for each competitor every year) to satisfy title 9 requirements. Be careful what you wish for...

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Miami did just that.
Here's an example going the other direction, if we're bringing other divisions into the conversation. The Division II PSAC Conference already separates out swimming and diving scoring at their conference championships. Member school Clarion University has one of the best DII Diving Teams in the country, too.

Also, Title IX does not just effect the number of sports an institution offers. There are also rules in Title IX regarding the distribution of resources and the number of student-athletes you have participating overall. I'm not familiar with the details in Miami's decision, but I'm sure there were unique factors within the athletic department.

And here's another question: if diving became more niche because schools dropped it once scoring was separated out, would that be the worst thing in the world for the sport? Many DIII institutions struggle to find quality diving coaches already. The current rules keep most teams from recruiting too many divers, so we have a situation where there are a few divers spread out among many different schools. If there were fewer schools, but those schools were dedicated to a quality diving program with a larger roster and the best coaches, would that be a disaster for diving?

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Re: History of Swimming & Diving

Post by N Dynamite » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:26 pm

a dude wrote:If there were fewer schools, but those schools were dedicated to a quality diving program with a larger roster and the best coaches, would that be a disaster for diving?
Yes - having fewer schools would drive up costs to attend competition which would lead to the inevitable spiral of cutting more teams and increased travel expense (raising the cost per person). Eventually diving would fail to exist as an NCAA offering. Or, if enough schools determined it was more cost efficient, they would cut swimming instead.

So what you are suggesting either hurts swimming (allowing schools to choose between two 20-30 person teams vs. two teams of 6-10 people) or diving (eliminate the sport altogether).

Your example about the PSAC isn't quite as valid - they don't recognize diving as an event because the majority of schools in the conference don't have facilities that meet the requirements for diving (not deep enough). Currently, if your school has facilities that meet the requirements (whether you actually have a board or not), visiting teams can claim diving points.

In the current economic climate, schools aren't making decisions based on participation, they're making them based on financial impact - what is the cost per person, how many people do they bring on campus (paying tuition, thus offsetting cost). I frequently post things that people vehemently disagree with, but I'm going to go out on a limb and state that, due to the expense of practice suits/race suits/tech suits/caps/goggles that need purchased anually, swimming is one of the more expensive sports, especially when you consider facility maintainence. Others might argue football or lacrosse, but those are more expensive start up costs - once you have the equipment and uniforms the cost of upkeep/replacement/refurbishment is lower per person per year on a long term basis.

Disclosure - I'm not trying to argue, just pointing out issues that make this more than a "swimming and diving are like scoring soccer and frisbee together"
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Re: History of Swimming & Diving

Post by a dude » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:13 pm

N Dynamite wrote:[
Yes - having fewer schools would drive up costs to attend competition which would lead to the inevitable spiral of cutting more teams and increased travel expense (raising the cost per person). Eventually diving would fail to exist as an NCAA offering. Or, if enough schools determined it was more cost efficient, they would cut swimming instead.

So what you are suggesting either hurts swimming (allowing schools to choose between two 20-30 person teams vs. two teams of 6-10 people) or diving (eliminate the sport altogether).

Your example about the PSAC isn't quite as valid - they don't recognize diving as an event because the majority of schools in the conference don't have facilities that meet the requirements for diving (not deep enough). Currently, if your school has facilities that meet the requirements (whether you actually have a board or not), visiting teams can claim diving points.

In the current economic climate, schools aren't making decisions based on participation, they're making them based on financial impact - what is the cost per person, how many people do they bring on campus (paying tuition, thus offsetting cost). I frequently post things that people vehemently disagree with, but I'm going to go out on a limb and state that, due to the expense of practice suits/race suits/tech suits/caps/goggles that need purchased anually, swimming is one of the more expensive sports, especially when you consider facility maintainence. Others might argue football or lacrosse, but those are more expensive start up costs - once you have the equipment and uniforms the cost of upkeep/replacement/refurbishment is lower per person per year on a long term basis.

Disclosure - I'm not trying to argue, just pointing out issues that make this more than a "swimming and diving are like scoring soccer and frisbee together"
I recognize that there are issues beyond the scoring together making no sense. The change would cause a seismic shift. Many people's current positions would be under question. Should this deter us from creating a competition that makes sense? Depends on whether your position would be under question, I suppose.

The issue comes up each year, here people blame the questioning of the scoring on Kenyon alumni, but I've heard it come up throughout the swimming community, whether it's in high school or in colleges outside of the nationally ranked teams. It keeps coming up because the scoring makes no sense, and it won't ever make sense. Should we just let the issue continue in perpetuity, just because a change maybe in bizarre and unlikely circumstances could destroy swimming programs?

Many DIII schools are struggling to keep their student bodies up, which is their main source of revenue. Athletics are a way for these schools to bring in students. It wouldn't make sense for a school to replace a swimming program with a diving program that won't bring in as many students over the costs of technical suits unless they're able to attract lots of divers (which most schools struggle with) or have an alternative way of attracting those same students. Those alternative ways of attracting students are dwindling.

Here's an example of how swimming has been expanding: http://bscsports.net/sports/swimdive/index. That's Birmingham Southern College, who has just recently added a swim team that uses a newly built community pool. I imagine they pay rental fees for the pool, or perhaps the college reached an agreement where they helped fund the facility and get to use it because of that funding. Somehow, the college has decided that it is in their economic interests to start new teams, even with the added expense of pool rental that most schools don't have. I won't act like I know the exact reasoning behind it, but it can't be Title IX because they added a men's and women's program. It probably has to do with swimming growing as a sport and a desire to attract more students that will be paying tuition.

For a school to replace their swimming program with a newly separated diving program, a school would need to:
1. Be able to replace the number of swimmers paying tuition with non-swimmers/divers to keep up their enrollment numbers.
2. Be in some kind of situation where the number of athletic programs that a school offers is a major issue, and they are only using their swimming program to keep that number up, meaning diving would be a viable alternative for their goals. Since NCAA DIII institutions only need to keep 10 or 12 sports (male and female combined), there aren't many DIII schools in this position.

If swimming and diving were separated, which programs would be under the most risk for being cut?

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