Eastern Michigan Says Goodbye to Men’s Swimming

Photo Courtesy: Eastern Michigan Athletics

By Guerby Ruuska, Swimming World Intern.

Michael Phelps was dethroned in the 200 fly at the London Olympics– sometimes the greats fall. But unlike Phelps, some of us, no matter how hard we try to stay at the top, get the short end of the stick. We still fall. Recently, the Eastern Michigan University men’s swim team has seen its final days. 

On March 20 the news was released that the Division 1 Eastern Michigan men’s swim program would be cut along with four other athletic programs. Among those programs were women’s tennis, men’s wrestling, and women’s softball.

“I have had the great good fortune to work with and befriend some great coaches and great people,” EMU head men’s and women’s coach Peter Linn said. ”I think the key is in always challenging yourself and your athletes to find a better way and to believe in themselves.”

Linn has completed his 29th season as head coach. During his tenure, he led his men’s team to 23 Mid-American Conference Championships. Among those came eight victories in a row from 1988-1996, and then continued that dominance more recently when they won from 2015-17. 

EMU has done everything right, but sometimes, even the right pieces won’t fit.

As I write this my whole focus has been on helping my athletes on both teams work through their challenges,” Linn said.

But despite the sad news that has occurred, Linn is still able to recall the special moments. Some highlights for Linn include:

“Athletes surprising themselves with what they are capable of achieving. There have been sad times with an athlete or coach’s death, there’s watching a person find themselves and becoming an amazing adult, there are marriages and children…it’s simply too broad to answer and after 29 years it’s hard to narrow things down even within a specific category.”

EMU men’s swimming’s time has expired, but that does not take away all that the team has accomplished, not just in the pool, but within the community as well.

“I have always hoped that they brought a true sense of pride and accomplishment to the community,” Linn said. “That they could be a program that the university could be proud of. I have been deeply touched by all of the past swimmers and divers that have written to tell me how much the program helped them become the person that they are today.”

A GoFundMe account was created in hopes that the men’s swim team could be saved but the news got out recently that the money raised and donation effort would not be enough to save the program.

Linn is aware of how dismal the situation is for his team, and the longtime coach is focused on helping his athletes get through it all.

“There are lots of X’s and O’s but it really comes down to taking care of your athletes and helping them grow. The Magic is in them,” Linn said.

The Eagles will forever fly high in the memories of many EMU swimmers and divers. The mark the swim team placed on the grounds of Eastern Michigan can never be erased. When we fall, we still engrave our name into the history books.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

11 Comments

11 comments

  1. Kelley Harman O

    Such a sad day for the sport of swimming and all of these amazing young men. Shame on EMU!

  2. Hearing Doc

    Such a shame that EMU has no problem keeping a ridiculous and unnecessary number of high paid administrators but cuts sports like men’s swim and dive. 😡

  3. Therese McAdams

    This game s just a poor decision on the schools part!

  4. Scottie Salinski

    A MACC powerhouse back in my day..Coach Mike Smith, thanks for all you have done

  5. avatar
    Dr Ralph Richards

    As a member of EMU’s first varsity team in1966, all I can say is “bad decision by the Board of Regents”. Success should be celebrated and rewarded. EMU Men’s Swimming has contributed so much to the lives of many.

  6. avatar
    Mike Wohl

    Thank you, Coach Peter Linn and Buck Smith, for what you have done for the many young men, throughout your tutelage.
    The program being cut is such a sad day for me, and my family. Having my three children swim at EMU and specifically you, is without question, a difference maker in their lives. I know how hard it will be to process this loss, and for many, the bitter feelings you will have for your Alma Mater. I coached Toledo Men when Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and my very own and wife Linda’s Alma Mater, Kent State dropped men’s and women’s swimming. They dropped Akron that same year even though they were not yet in the MAC. Could this be the final straw for the MAC men’s swimming? Also, having watched NIU, BGSU, Toledo, Ohio, and Buffalo be axed has been equally harsh for our swim community! The opportunity for young men to swim and earn scholarship in the Midwest has been destroyed by title nine, and AD’s trying to balance, out of control football budgets. I’ve coached, college, HS, and club for 40 years, and it hard to see this demise and not speak up! To all the amazing history, great coaches, great swimming, and dedicated families, I can’t leave you any real wisdom- just disgust. What they can’t take away are yours, and my own great memories! I will never forget the senior recognition night, standing side by side with all the other seniors, and all teams members, chanting, and clapping the last night of Championships, MAC,MAC,MAC!

Author: Guerby Ruuska

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