SEATTLE, Wash., Aug. 29. WASHINGTON athletic director Barbara Hedges announced today that she has reversed her decision to drop men's and women's swimming as a varsity sport following the conclusion of the 2000-2001 season. The announcement to drop the program was made on July 27 after an evaluation of the program.
At the time of the announcement, Hedges stated the reasons behind dropping the program were an inadequate and outdated swimming facility on campus; a lack of community support for the program; the inability to attract the top swimmers in the state of Washington to attend the University and the competitive disadvantage that resulted from those factors.
"In the last month, it has become very apparent that there is interest in retaining this program, not only from the people in the Seattle area, but around the State of Washington," Hedges says. "I have heard from many of them. I also have had productive conversations with Dave Coddington, chair of Pacific Northwest Swimming.
"As a result, Northwest Swimming has made a commitment to support the University of Washington swimming program, to assist us in encouraging the most outstanding in-state swimmers to attend the University, and to join with the University in our desire to build a state-of-the art training facility.
As part of its commitment, Northwest Swimming will assist the University to establish a task force on swimming. The focus of the task force will be:
A. Identifying a site and funding plan for a new Husky training facility.
B. Enhancing swimming opportunities for children, particularly underrepresented minority children; and
C. Retaining in-state swimmers
"The task force will involve University and community leaders, and hopefully city and state leaders," Hedges says. "As a result of these goals, I have agreed to reinstate the sport of swimming. In a reasonable period of time, and with the proper community support, we will be able to accomplish the goals that I have outlined."
"I am elated at this decision," says Husky swimming coach Mickey Wender. "I do believe that Washington can be a top swimming program and these goals, if accomplished, will allow us to do that. There have been a lot of people in the swimming community who rallied behind our program in the past few weeks and I appreciate all of their efforts. I look forward to their continued support and commitment to allow the Husky swimmers, and the youth in our community, to achieve their goals in this sport."