The Morning Swim Show, July 23, 2012: Simon Fraser Swimming Ready for NCAA Debut Under Liam Donnelly’s Leadership

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 23. IN a couple of months, Simon Fraser University could become the first non-American school in the NCAA, and on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show, swimming head coach Liam Donnelly talks about the impact that will make on the team.

Donnelly runs through the history of SFU getting into the NCAA and how the team has been preparing for it through the years. He also mentions how recruiting could be affected by the school being a part of the NCAA. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.

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Tiffany Elias: This is the Morning Swim Show for July 23, 2012. I am your host Tiffany Elias. The NCAA is going international. Simon Fraser University located in Vancouver, Canada is soon to be the first school outside of the US to compete in the NCAA. With us now with more information is head coach of Simon Fraser, Liam Donnelly. Liam, thanks for joining us today.

Liam Donnelly: No problem. It is nice to be here.

Tiffany Elias: Alright, so you are actually out at the Canadian Summer Nationals. It is about to start here at any day, how's it going out there?

Liam Donnelly: Well, so far so good. The competition gets started tomorrow so that's when, you know, we kind of get rolling with that. It's obviously pretty Olympics so we can focus on our national championships for that and really looking forward to it.

Tiffany Elias: Alright, so you actually have a really great turn out, out there, 12 athletes from Simon Fraser, you mentioned earlier but representing their club teams is – are they, how are they feeling in the water right now?

Liam Donnelly: I think they are ready to go, you know, they – you know they are really excited. National championships is always the biggest meet in the country for the past two or three years so we are really excited about the summer nationals and you know, we are not only looking at the athletes that we have in our program but we are also looking at the recruits and the prospects for you know the coming year and coming years.

Tiffany Elias: Well, I definitely think what the Olympics coming up in just over a week that there are some extra excitement on that pool deck but speaking of your program, Simon Fraser doing some really big things in the sport, making the move hopefully official soon to the NCAA. Why don't you give us little background there as obviously NCAA doesn't have any schools outside of the US but Simon Fraser is on the cusp of being the first so why don't you give us more information on how that came about?

Liam Donnelly: Absolutely, you know, since the history of SFU in the 1960s, we wanted to be a little bit different in Canada. We have looked more south for our competition. There is – the level of competition and play in the United States is quite frankly the best in the world, and we wanted to be always a part of that. We got a base with our education, we got roots in Canada. However, on – from athletic perspective, we have always wanted to be a part of the US. We have been historically in the NAIA, which is National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics but now with this opportunity to move into the NCAA Division Two our entire university is very excited with this move.

Tiffany Elias: Alright, so you will be making the move hopefully into the Greater Northwest Conference which is a Division Two so how is it gonna impact your training, your traveling, your conference schedule?

Liam Donnelly: For, you know for this – for the sport, the team sports we have been already been in for the last three years, of course this past year was our provisional year and we have been competing fully within the conference, you know, so that we are looking into get over this provisional year hurdle and moving into our full membership year, which in the coming year, there is one final vote on August 1st, provided we receive support in the vote, you know, we look forward to being full members. From a swimming diving perspective, there is only one of the school within our conference currently that sports swimming and diving and that's University of Alaska Fairbanks. We have been up to Fairbanks with our women's team as they only have women, they don't have the men's swimming and diving and they have come back down and we are doing that again this coming year but it really opens this up, you know, in swimming and diving, you can qualify for the championships by virtue of your performance, your times. So we look to an NCAA schedule, we are including more, we are down in UCLA this year competing with them. We got you know, Seattle University which is Division 1, just two and a half hour south of us, we are dueling them twice this year so we are, you know, a little bit more inclusive in the NCAA schedule and looking at dual meets throughout the United States.

Tiffany Elias: Will that definitely help being able to qualify time-wise, I am sure that will have much different impact on those other sports, football, volleyball that type of thing. But what was the general reaction of the athletes when this has been such a long drawn-out process. It takes multiple years of course to finally happen, what was the general reaction of the athletes that are actually on the team and going to be able to experience that transition?

Liam Donnelly: Well, last year was our toughest year. Last year, we had no national championships at all, we weren't – we were excluded from the NAIA nationals which we were you know, we were in the process of leaving. We were not yet permitted to compete in the NCAA at a championship level. That was a tough year, real tough for particularly our seniors of course. Now, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, anybody coming in, they are extremely excited about the opportunities and possibilities ahead of us so you know, from that perspective and across the nation in Canada right now, there are a lot of the recruits are very sad but the opportunity of joining SFU, you know, looking because we are looking at membership, within the NCAA and the NCAA is the organization of university athletics in the world. That is the best so everyone is quite excited about our membership and moving forward and you know, the athletes as I said, the seniors had a real tough time with it but, you know, they are looking at the big picture too and people in our program, I think there is so much excitement over the last couple of years. They are very much looking forward to competing within the NCAA.

Tiffany Elias: So how is this transition gonna affect recruiting? Like you just said more students, I am assuming in Canada are more interested because they are making that NCAA transition but are gonna see any crossover now that you are tapping in the US market that could potentially come out to Canada?

Liam Donnelly: Yeah, a little bit, I mean certainly the senior swimmers in high school across Canada look to our school and at our academic repetition. There are some in the United States as well but there are so many option in the US that is quite difficult and that was a very competitive field of American schools. A lot of them are outstanding academic institutions, so of course we welcome American high school students that are looking at us very seriously. Funny enough, it has opened up quite a bit in Europe. There is certainly a lot of swimmers across the Europe and in Asia that are aware of our school from an academic point of view and our very aware of the NCAA and the opportunities in the NCAA so you know worldwide, I think it is made definitely a little bit difference in our recruiting.

Tiffnay Elias: Well, I defnitley think there is vague things on horizon for Simon Fraser, thank you for filling us in on those details and we are definitely excited to hopefully be following you guys at the Division Two nationals next year. Thank you for joining us Liam.

Liam Donnelly: Thank you.

Tiffany Elias: Well, that will conclude today's morning swim show. There are a lot of very excited things to look forward to with the upcoming college season. Make sure to follow us on facebook and twitter so you can keep up with latest stories. We are only days away from the 2012 Olympic Games. I am your host Tiffany Elias, join us again for tomorrow's show.

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