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Swim team’s fate left up to Chancellor

November 19, 2009

The debate over whether or not to discontinue the swim and dive program at UW-River Falls is in its final stages after the Athletic Committee voted 6-1 to keep the swim team on Nov. 9.

In an e-mail sent to the supporters and members of the swim team, Head Coach Bill Henderson said, “this is a positive step, but not the final call. Keep your fingers crossed and continue to encourage your family and friends to write the chancellor and tell our story.”

The recommendation made by the Athletic Committee will now go on to Chancellor Dean Van Galen, who will make the final decision. The decision is expected to be made just before Thanksgiving.

The Athletic Committee of the Faculty Senate issued their findings in a report after three public meetings were held to discuss the future of the swim and dive team.

“I have seen [the report] and I feel it is very favorable to the team, but I may be reading it the way I want it to go,” Henderson said.

The possibility of the discontinuation of the UWRF swim and dive team came after the Karges pool broke down in June. When it was determined by the executive council that the pool would not be repaired or rebuilt, the future of the team was up in the air.

The swim team was determined to fight against the possibility of losing their team. The first public meeting was held on Oct. 7, when the Athletic Council was met with concerns from members of the team, parents, other UWRF athletes, coaches and supporters.

At the meeting, Henderson explained how the team has benefited greatly from renting and using the high school’s pool facility as their temporary new home.

“The River Falls High School pool has proven to be a true blessing in disguise. Despite it being an off-campus facility, the team has embraced the move and it’s working out far better than we possibly imagined,” he said.

A second meeting was held on Oct. 19. Kathy Olson, women’s athletic conference rep to WIAC, and Kenneth Ecker, chair of health and human performance, agreed that “if the Karges pool were still up and running we would not be sitting here right now.” Craig Morris, assistant to the chancellor for equity and affirmative action, disagreed.

The third meeting was held Oct. 26, when members of the swim team had an opportunity to speak their mind.

“The camaraderie on our team is unparalleled to any other team in our conference, and it would be a tragedy for the University to lose such a passionate team,” Tamra Knight, one of the women’s captains, said.

The final meeting was held Oct. 28.