ASHLAND, Va., May 29. RANDOLPH-MACON College in Ashland, Virginia will be adding men's swimming as a varsity sport beginning with the 2002-2003 season. Swimming World and SwimInfo.com commend the school for its decision.
Dave Holland, head coach of the women's team, will be responsible for bringing back the strong men's swimming tradition. Randolph-Macon had a competitive men's team from the 1950s until the early 1970s. Swimming was reintroduced as a varsity sport in 1999 after the completion of the Estes Aquatic Center in the Brock Sports & Recreation Center. Since then, the women's team has made strong progress, finishing second overall this past winter in the Atlantic States Championships, the highest-ever finish for the program.
"This decision is a really positive move for both Randolph-Macon College and the future of men's collegiate swimming in this region," says Holland. "Currently in Virginia, there are just a handful of Division III schools that sponsor men's swimming. By bringing back the strong tradition of men's swimming to our unique campus in Ashland, we now become an attractive destination for those men who want a chance to benefit from a quality liberal arts education and a competitive swimming team experience."
Randolph-Macon's new Athletics Director, Kevin Eastman, agrees that bringing men's swimming back as a varsity sport is a good idea for the college. "Men's swimming is a sport that makes real sense for us to have," Eastman commented.
"Dave Holland has done a fine job with the women's program; couple this with the first-class aquatic facility we have in the Brock Center and we only see a bright future for the entire swimming program."
The 2002-2003 men's swimming team will be comprised of four incoming freshmen as well as four upperclassmen that already attend Randolph-Macon. The competition schedule for the Yellow Jackets will include dual meets with other NCAA Division III schools in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, as well as a coed invitational meet at home in Ashland on December 6 and 7.
Current students who are interested in swimming and former Randolph-Macon team members are also pleased with the decision. "I am happy that Randolph-Macon has made this decision and that the administration, faculty and staff support it," saidNick Griffith, a current junior from Richmond, Virginia. "It will provide the students with another outlet. I am excited to have the opportunity to compete." Griffith is an English major with a minor in Religion. His top events are the breaststroke, the individual medley, and the freestyle.
Griffith competed as an individual during the 2000-2001 season, and set Randolph-Macon records in the 100 freestyle, 100 and 200 breaststroke, and the 200 IM.
Former team member Ken Hynes graduated from Randolph-Macon in 1974, and was a two-year member of the swimming team. He supports the school's decision and is looking forward to seeing the team compete.
"Being a part of a sport is an opportunity that a young person should not pass up, provided of course that they can maintain their academic standing," Hynes commented. "While a lot of sports are limited to high school and college, swimming is something you can take with you for life. I applaud the effort to re-institute a men's swimming team at Randolph-Macon."
Dr. Robert K. Holyer, Randolph-Macon's Dean of the College and Vice President for Academic Affairs, was a part of the decision to restart the men's swimming program. "We've had such good success with our women's swimming program, which is only in its third year, that we have decided to move forward with an equal commitment to develop a strong men's program," Holyer said. "We have first-rate facilities and excellent coaching, so it was an easy decision to make."