Flooded with Hope Despite a Flooded Campus: UNCW Swim and Dive Affected by Hurricane Florence

Photo Courtesy: Jack Cosgrove

By Mary Weinstein, Swimming World College Intern.

The start of a new school year for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Swim and Dive team is usually an exciting time: preseason practices begin, the excitement of upcoming meets begins to surface, and team bonding becomes a pinnacle experience for team culture. Men’s and women’s teams begin to fall into a rhythm of enthusiasm as they expect their season to be filled with opportunities to grow and learn in the pool with their teammates and coaches. Part of UNCW Swim and Dive team’s groundwork for a successful season is goal-setting during the initial weeks of practice. They troubleshoot for adversity and other issues that could hurt the potential for a successful season in the pool, many of which are surrounded within academic and athletic realms.


Photo Courtesy: Kristi Allison

However, getting caught in the middle of a natural disaster that separates teammates from the common place they call home is not something that readily comes to mind during this process. Hurricane Florence was identified in the Atlantic Ocean, having the potential to create chaos within the North and South Carolina coasts. Wilmington is no stranger to storms, however the strength and magnitude of this one was almost unmatched to anything UNCW has ever seen.

Displacement from UNCW

Along with other students living on campus at UNCW, swimmers and divers were forced to evacuate on September eleventh – just three days before Hurricane Florence arrived. “A lot of us traveled together. Not everyone had transportation and could get back to their hometown with such short notice,” Elena Adcock explains, a sophomore swimmer at UNCW.

Most of the team was able to leave Wilmington besides a few; all who stayed are safe including the coaching staff.

“I’m from California, so going home wasn’t possible. Once school was cancelled, I began packing my stuff up and trying to get it off the floor before the storm hit. I never thought I could just pause my busy life until I was forced to do it,” senior UNCW swimmer Vivian Louviere describes.

Impact of Florence


Photo Courtesy: Jack Cosgrove

Louviere shares her experience as one of the few members of the team who experienced Florence’s wrath in Wilmington:

Thursday night was terrifying. We lost power and tried to sleep in the pitch black. The wind was incredibly loud, and we could hear trees snapping. All Friday the wind and rain were bad; we were stuck inside. By Saturday, the wind and rain lightened up, and the woman I was staying with took me to see the places we live. We drove down the street and were overjoyed that not a single tree had hit a house that any of my teammates or I live. We got the rest of the rain Saturday night and Sunday. On Monday, I went back to our street to discover that my house and a house some of our other teammates live in had flooded.

Recovery Efforts


Photo Courtesy: Evan Arsenault

While there has been an extensive amount of damage on campus, UNCW Swim and Dive continues to be optimistic. Those who remain in Wilmington have been sharing news and photos with other teammates who left. This helps to keep the team connected, although they remain physically separate.

“Each and every one of us is going through such a similar situation. Together, we have an amazing support system. Struggle and hardships have a unique way of uniting people, and we think that’s what Florence is doing for us,” Adcock adds.

Although Florence has caused some physical setbacks in the realms of training together and recruiting, the team remains determined to return stronger despite the aftermath. “We are dedicated people. We all have goals, and as a team we plan on attaining them this season,” sophomore UNCW swimmer Faith Pilcher adds.

UNCW Swim and Dive has plans to join other student-led disaster relief groups like WeWilmRebuild (https://www.gofundme.com/wewilmrebuild) with emphasis on how valuable rebuilding the community will be for team and community morale. Despite the unusual obstacles this program has experienced and will continue to face, Florence is only making them stronger and hungrier for success in the pool.

If you desire to send aid to the team or the area, feel free to donate to their rebuilding cause by clicking HERE.

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