How Beloit College Swim and Dive is Shattering Swimming Stereotypes

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Photo Courtesy: Kevin Schober

By Kaylie Williams, Swimming World College Intern.

Within each sport, there are stereotypes that influence the way outsiders see the sport and those who participate in it. Swimming has its own stereotypes and expectations just like any other, but Beloit College Swim and Dive is determined to bust these labels and promote inclusivity and acceptance for all who step foot on the pool deck.

Inclusivity, put quite simply, means including those who might be otherwise excluded or marginalized, such as those who are handicapped, learning-disabled or racial and sexual minorities. Discussions of inclusivity in athletics and administration among college campuses are becoming more and more common as athletes across all sports are breaking stereotypes left and right. The athletic world is slowly turning into a more diverse and unique outlet for its participants. On Beloit’s campus, the administration and athletics department strive to promote ideals of inclusivity in all of their student events, classes and NCAA Division lll teams by making sure that all identities are properly recognized and validated.

Inclusivity in the Sport of Swimming

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Photo Courtesy: Meshach Roberts

Although swimming is classified as an individual sport, in many cases that classification is far from the truth. While some teams might not be the close-knit family that Beloit College Swim and Dive is, there is definitely a unique bond between swimmers. Even though swimmers compete in individual events, the team has an understanding of exactly how hard those swimmers worked to finish that race; that sense of accomplishment and determination to finish is what bonds them together.

Beloit College Swim and Dive, or BCSD, is lucky enough to have an energetic, caring group of individuals who work to promote inclusivity and support each other in their endeavors. BCSD has busted the stereotype that swimming is an individual sport in numerous ways. The team is diverse and unique in the sense that it is composed of swimmers from ten different states and two different countries (China and the Bahamas), all of which are involved in numerous clubs and organizations across campus. But most importantly, they are a support system for each other, coming in handy for swimmers like Ana Kohout.

Ana Kohout in the Spotlight

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Photo Courtesy: Beloit College Swim and Dive

Kohout, 19, is pictured above. She has been swimming competitively since she was in the fifth grade and now swims for Beloit College. Kohout was born with spina bifida and has scattered paralysis from the waist down, which means that the use of her legs is limited. But you would be mistaken if you thought that could slow her down. Her drive and determination to succeed in the pool shatters the stereotype that swimmers need their legs to swim. Last year, Kohout broke multiple personal records throughout the season and attributes part of her success to the coaching and support from the BCSD team.

Unfortunately, adaptive programs for college swimmers are few and far between, so Kohout had her work cut out for her in the process of finding a swimming program that would allow her to pursue her goals of competing in college. She recalls going to coaches and asking if they would be willing to coach her. To her benefit, there were many college programs that were willing to work with her, such as Loyola University of Maryland and most obvious, Beloit College. Only a couple turned her away.

She quickly found a home at Beloit College, noticing the support, commitment and genuine friendships right away. She remarks, “Coach was the most committed in terms of coaching me. He came to my nationals meet in Wisconsin to watch and support me over the summer before I even began swimming for Beloit. That’s when I knew that Beloit was different.” Kohout, commenting on the team’s overall attitude, says that BCSD is “accepting and supportive without obligation.” The team breaks the individualistic stereotype by offering to help her out – not because they have to, but because they care.

While Beloit College may be a small, private liberal arts school in a little Midwestern town, its administration and athletics department are making big strides in the right direction. That direction is towards inclusivity, and BCSD as a team is shattering stereotypes by showing that it is possible to swim without legs. They prove that being on a swim team doesn’t have to be individualistic – it can and should be a family.

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

4 comments

  1. Jonathan Powers

    Very proud of Kevin Schober and the Beloit team.

  2. avatar
    Breeze Jacobson

    Simply put – this is awesome and amazing. So well stated and so proud to share in BCSD history by having had the honor of working with the team in different capacities. Keep up the great work and Go Bucs!!!

  3. Christina Pape Klawitter

    Really good story about Beloit swim and Dive, and about Coach Schober’s leadership!

  4. avatar
    Mary lou kohout

    I am so happy n supportive of the Beloit
    Swim n dive team coached by coach
    Schober’s Bringing team together supportive of ever
    Everyone one on the team regardless
    Of abilities in n out of the pool on dry land
    N swimming.
    The article in swim magazine gives beautiful
    Support n caring for my Grandaughter
    Ana Kohout great job Christine
    Good luck for year 2018/2019
    I can’t wait to see a swim meet
    Go BUCS. Go. Ur the best.