PHOENIX, Arizona, January 25. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show, two swimmers from the University of Cincinnati talk about the lack of scholarship funding on the men's team, and how the combined squads work together.
Stephanie Conklin and Matt Hargrove talk about how a new facility continues to help bring male recruits to the campus despite the lack of athletic scholarships. They also discuss a fundraising effort for a former teammate battling cancer. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Peter Busch: Welcome to the Morning Swim Show for Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 I'm your host Peter Busch. In the FINIS Monitor today we will talk to a couple of Cincinnati Bearcat swimmers. The men's program, like several others in the country, has been through some hard times recently, losing their scholarship support, while the women have been able to keep theirs though it hasn't been easy, and joining us right now in the FINIS Monitor from Cincinnati are Stephanie Conklin and Matt Hargrove. Hey guys welcome to the Morning Swim Show how are you?
Matt Hargrove: Good, thanks for having us.
Peter Busch: Alright well first of all to start off tell us a little bit about yourself, what year are you? What do you swim? What do you study?
Matt Hargrove: I am senior academically and I'm an accounting major but I am a junior with swimming eligibility.
Stephanie Conklin: I am a senior. I am an accounting and finance double major and I swim breaststroke.
Peter Busch: So you guys have had kind of a tumultuous four years there at Cincinnati. We mentioned it in the intro like a lot of other programs with you know not major schools you have lost a lot of funding. Matt first of all, how have guys you know been able to keep existing without scholarship funding?
Matt Hargrove: I think initially it came as a kind of a shock when we got our scholarships cut and everyone was kind of unsure what to do, but we actually had been able to nail a number of pretty solid walk-ons the last couple of years and I think it is a being a tribute to our coaching staff being really good staff and our great facilities. We have a great weight room. We have a great new cool facility there. It just comes down to when we do have kids come on trips, just showing them what we are all about and say we can't necessarily offer you money, but we have good academic programs and this is our team environment and this is what we do have to offer.
Peter Busch: Now Stephanie I understand that the women don't necessarily have scholarships through the athletic department, but you have been able to get it through some private funding is that right?
Stephanie Conklin: No, we actually have athletic scholarships.
Peter Busch: Oh okay.
Stephanie Conklin: Right the women weren't changed at all it was just the guy's team. The scholarships were dropped.
Peter Busch: Okay, now you guys train together right it is a, you know, guys and girls all training in the same practice, same pool?
Stephanie Conklin: Correct, same lanes, same cycles it would be just like a club or age group team. You are all together, one team.
Peter Busch: Has it been difficult watching what the guys have gone through?
Stephanie Conklin: Yeah definitely. It is hard when they came in and told us, everyone was kind of like what is the next step, are they going to get cut and a lot went through our minds but one thing that I looked at when I was going through the college decision process was does the swim team I am looking at have a guys team as well and there were some teams I went to look at how the guy's swimming program and the girl's swimming program and they practiced at different times or they were separated in different lanes, and I really looked at programs where it was only guys and girls together doing the same thing, same set, same cycles all together because it just brings so much diversity and it is a completely different environment to have guys and girls mixed together than just the guy's team or just the girl's team. I went to an all-girls high school so I have had both worlds. I know what it is like to – when we have girls and like I said my club team was guys and girls together and I'm like that is so much more.
Peter Busch: Matt, did Josh Schneider's success help you guys at all in recruiting and convincing people that you could a be a successful swimmer there?
Matt Hargrove: Oh yeah, definitely. There have been actually a couple times in the past where Josh for whatever reason was back in Cincinnati visiting family or just visiting old classmates and Monty would call him up and say, "Hey we have some kids on a recruiting trip" or for whatever reason and Josh would come down to the pool and either swim with us or just talk to the kids like, help give them more of a feel of what the training is like because we have nailed a couple of pretty solid sprinters out of high school that we are looking to do some things in the next couple of years and I think a lot of that is attributed to Monty and how he was able to take Josh from a state champion out of high school to NCAA champion his senior year.
Peter Busch: Do you find a lot of the guys on the team are able to get academic scholarships or you know are they from the area and so the tuition maybe isn't as high because it is in state?
Matt Hargrove: Yeah, we have I am not sure exactly how many people are getting academic scholarships but I am receiving some academic scholarship money, and I know a number of my other teammates are as well. The— I'm sorry, I completely—
Peter Busch: It is okay, so I mean basically it sounds like you guys are a little limited in what you can do and with nationwide recruiting but you can still exist. There is a formula there that you guys are taking advantage of.
Matt Hargrove: Right, exactly.
Peter Busch: And Stephanie, you are— it looks like pretty darn close to your Olympic trial cuts?
Stephanie Conklin: Yeah, hopefully. Close isn't good enough, though. It only gets you so far.
Peter Busch: So is the hope to get them at the conference or NCAA or what are you saving up for this year?
Stephanie Conklin: Conference is actually short course yards and you can only get trial cuts and long course meters so there is a lot of Grand Prix this spring that I am planning on going to and Trials aren't until June 25th is when they start so as soon as the — is over there is no big break from me. I am back in the water Monday morning ready to go training hard so hopefully the sooner the better it will be stress-free and off my mind but yeah hopefully by June 25th I will have two.
Peter Busch: Now tell us how the women are looking this year, would you guys have any relays NCAA's or still trying to qualify them?
Stephanie Conklin: Yeah, we actually haven't qualified anyone so far because A cuts are so hard that you really have to wait and just see who gets selected but we have a couple of really good freshmen, our relays are looking really, really good. Some people actually can be on multiple relays, so Monty will have to decide at conference whether like some people are great for every single relay but obviously you can't swim every single relay so he is still toying with it and going through at our dual meets and stuff like that deciding what the best relay is and whether people should be doing medley relays or freestyle relays and stuff like that but we are looking pretty good, we have high goals for conference. We are hoping to finish higher than last year. So it is looking promising and hopefully we will have at least one if not two representatives at NCAA this year.
Peter Busch: Matt, has the school said anything about the future of the men's program? Have they assured that without scholarships it will continue to exist or is it you know in jeopardy as well, the whole program?
Matt Hargrove: I haven't heard anything about the future. As far as I know I think they are continuing to hold on to the program for as long as possible. We just got a new athletic director, Whit Babcock, and we are actually really excited to work with him because he has come from a number of schools that did have successful swimming programs. He was at Auburn, West Virginia and Missouri before he came to Cincinnati and we are really excited with what he brings to the table and hoping that having to change in the head of the athletic department might actually move us in the direction opposite from getting cut more towards returning some funding to the school.
Peter Busch: Well that would be great, yeah that would be great. Well I don't know if you guys need to do any you know fundraising for that sort of stuff but I understand that you guys have already spearheaded some fundraising efforts for a former teammate who is diagnosed with cancer is that right?
Matt Hargrove: That is correct.
Peter Busch: Tell us about that please?
Matt Hargrove: Our teammate Nate Kramer. He graduated this past June. He was diagnosed with Leukemia in May of last year I think it was.
Stephanie Conklin: I think he got sick in May, I don't know if they actually got the diagnosis until June. It was right around graduation that he got the actual diagnosis.
Matt Hargrove: And so he has been back and forth really battling this thing hard. It is really cool to see how being positive he is. He is one of the nicest most positive people you could ever hope to meet and so normally every year we do the hour of power swim for cancer research. We have done that the last three years I think it was but this year since one of our own was diagnosed with cancer and we decided to give the Hour of Power a different meaning and we raised all the money and donated that to Nate's medical fund because the cost through his various treatments. I think right now he is on his either 5th or 6th round of chemotherapy and the cost that they are just accumulating or just so high so we are trying to help and do whatever we can to just give back to a guy who has given so much to the university.
Stephanie Conklin: It is also really encouraging. He has come to the pool a few times. I know that when he was diagnosed he was put in the hospital 24/7. He had to move in there. It wasn't like an outpatient thing and he was in there for months and I think one day he got a pass maybe September, October something like that and they said you can go home for like four hours if you want to go see your dog or see your grandma or whoever and he said I want to go to the pool. And he came to our practice and it was like he walked in and people almost started crying. It was like people got goosebumps they are so excited to see him. And you have to know Nate. His four years here, he was the most upbeat person every day. He was a distance swimmer so he got pushed over in the distance lane and had to do with the grueling sets where some other people were like practicing turns. There is something else he was doing like 3×1000 for time and he was just like, yeah, let's go, let's do it and that is the same thing with this, they are like alright I don't know the last round of chemo didn't work so well we are going to have to do another one alright bring it on let's go I'm ready to go, I'm ready to fight this like he has never even — his parents said I don't know where it gets it from. He has never been down he is ready to go he is ready to fight. He is not giving up and if you come in to our pool deck our water bottles all across our lanes are just written "Fight for Nate" all over. We have the like lid strong bracelets we have made that are UC swimming and Fight for Nate we have t-shirts this year that say "Fight for Nate" and everyday on practice you would go in and you just think fight for Nate. When you are at the end of a hard set and you aren't doing so well it is not for you, you are fighting for Nate and you are thinking he is battling for his life, you are battling to get through a 200 fast you know. So he has been an inspiration to everyone and like I said no one knows where he gets it, it is so motivational just to see him and he has come to our practice a few times and he actually came to our Hour of Power fundraiser and it was great to see him. It is great when his parents stop by and say "hi." Everyone loves it.
Peter Busch: Something to motivate you before this final conference season, right?
Stephanie Conklin: Definitely. We will be thinking about him at Big East too.
Peter Busch: It sounds like his background as the distance swimmer is prepared and well for a fight with –
Matt Hargrove: Yeah.
Stephanie Conklin: Definitely.
Peter Busch: Tough cookie. Well guys thank you so much for joining us, good luck the rest of the year.
Stephanie Conklin: Thank you.
Matt Hargrove: Thanks.
Peter Busch: Alright that is Stephanie Conklin and Matt Hargrove joining us from the University of Cincinnati and that is it for today's show. I'm Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.
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