By Phillip Whitten
SEATTLE, July 27. In the latest blow to the U.S. intercollegiate swimming program, the major source of athletes for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, SwimInfo has learned that the University of Washington has decided to drop both its men’s and women’s swimming programs effective June 30, 2001. Athletic Director Barbara Hedges is expected to make an official announcement late this afternoon. However, she did not return repeated phone calls.
In the past, the Washington Huskies have produced scores of Olympians, and this year was one of the most successful in recent years, as the Huskies had a winning dual meet record, four swimmers qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, and 20 school records were shattered. However Ralph Bayard, the Senior Associate Athletic Director, cited an "inability to be competitive at the highest levels" as the reason for the school’s decision.
"Our present facilities are inadequate for this program to recruit and compete at the highest level." Bayard said he was "unaware" of the efforts of a group of alumni that reportedly has been planning to raise funds to build a new, state-of-the-art pool for the University.
"Cutting programs is the last thing we want to do," said Bayard. "But when we did our annual review of all our programs, we did not see that there was any prospect that we would ever be able to compete and win at the Pac-10 championship and NCAA championship level.