TUCSON, Arizona, February 25. AFTER months of wading through red tape with the NCAA, Brad Tandy got his clearance to compete as an Arizona Wildcat, just in time for next week’s Pac 12 swimming and diving championships.
“I’m pretty excited right now,” Tandy said today. “I can officially call myself a Wildcat, which is something I’ve been waiting for.”
The issue at hand was the year Tandy spent in South Africa after graduating from Ladysmith High School training for a spot on that country’s Olympic team. NCAA rules allow a potential student-athlete to take a year off after high school before starting college without affecting their eligibility, but Tandy said “it came down to miscommunication” regarding why he was taking this gap year in South Africa.
Because the meets he competed in while in South Africa were part of his preparation for qualifying for the South African Olympic team — which he failed to do — the NCAA ruled that the gap year does not count against his eligibility. That means Tandy will race as a junior this season after two successful years at Indian River State College, where he was the class of the field with times of 19.06 and 43.12 in the 50 and 100 freestyles.
It took almost a year to clear up the issue, and it was a trying time for Tandy as he watched his teammates racing in dual meets and qualifying for the NCAA championships.
“I was kind of discouraged the entire year,” he said. “It’s hard not being on the team, but still being on it in a way.”
Tandy proved he was going to be an asset for the Wildcat throughout the season, posting sub-20 second 50-yard freestyles in exhibition swims during dual meet breaks. At the Texas Invitational in December, where he swam unattached, Tandy put up times of 18.97 and 42.71 in the sprint freestyles. Those times won’t carry over for NCAA qualification, so Tandy will have to get close to those times again next week in Federal Way at the conference meet. He also said he is signed up for the 100 breast as his third individual event, citing shoulder problems as a reason why he’s not in the 100 butterfly.
Tandy is also setting his sights on the South African nationals in April with a goal of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games team.