PHOENIX, Arizona, July 1. TODAY across the United States, a few Division I universities will officially move to new conferences, setting up some new dynamics in swimming and diving.
Only two of the top Division I conferences will get new swimming and diving teams, putting more swimmers on deck at the conference championships. But unlike Texas A&M’s move from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference two years ago, these shifts might not make a dramatic impact, at least in the short term. Coincidentally, the two schools were part of the short-lived American Athletic Conference before it was disbanded.
The University of Louisville could do some damage in the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, especially on the women’s side as they try to dilute the dominance Virginia has enjoyed there for many years. Aided by Kelsi Worrell, Tanja Kylliainen and more, the Cardinals might not have the depth to challenge for the team title in 2015, but could make Virginia’s road to another championship more difficult. On the men’s side, the loss of Joao de Lucca to graduation will hurt Louisville’s abilities in the relays. The ACC is well-known for its strong men’s relays, especially from North Carolina State and Virginia Tech. Louisville could be holding a team conference trophy in their debut next year, but the lack of diving strength will hurt.
The Big Ten conference is adding two new schools for a total of 14 institutions, but only one of those schools funds a swimming and diving team. Maryland’s aquatics programs were cut a couple of years ago, so the Terrapins won’t have a presence in swimming and diving. Rutgers only has a women’s team and is not likely to have a shot at a team title, but the move to a tougher conference will likely boost Rutgers’ recruiting efforts, and over time the Scarlet Knights will work their way up to prominence in one of the fastest conferences in the country.