In Letter, Olympian BJ Bedford Miller Credits Dartmouth Swimming for Career Inspiration

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Photo Courtesy: Dartmouth Athletics

Olympian BJ Bedford Miller offered her support to reinstate the soon-to-be-cut Dartmouth men’s and women’s swimming teams with a letter posted on the Save Dartmouth Swim Dive site.

Bedford won gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney on the world record-setting women’s medley relay. She earned gold medals at the World Championships, the Pan Pacific Championships, Pan American Games and World University Games after a starring career at the Peddie School in New Jersey and the University of Texas. She retired in 2001.

But before that, the native of Etna, New Hampshire, and her siblings were age-groupers at Hanover Swim Team. To her, the epitome of swimming success was the Dartmouth varsity team:

“Without the Dartmouth Swim program, I never would have imagined that I could have achieved Olympic Trial qualifying times, won national titles, gone to the Olympics. Because of the investment in me by these (and many more) student-athletes at Dartmouth, I knew that it was possible to be a student athlete and continue to follow my passion into NCAA competition. For me, that was the University of Texas.”

Bedford urged the Dartmouth administration to reconsider its cut of the swimming and diving team, which was announced in July. Dartmouth swimming, which survived an attempt to cut the program in the early 1990s, has rallied a robust campaign, tapping into a vast alumni network. If the cuts are sustained, Dartmouth would be the only Ivy League school not to have a varsity swim team, at an institution where swimming instruction is a graduate requirement.

Bedford argues that the long-term detriment of cutting the squad would far outweigh the short-term financial benefits. From her letter:

You have no idea the impact on a little girl in the community to see a team of women who compete in a sport that that little girl loves. Growing up, I only saw football, basketball and baseball on TV. I didn’t know who swimmers were, I didn’t really know the national heroes. The women who modeled what it was to be successful for me were the Dartmouth College swimmers.

Please understand that if you abandon this sport, the downstream effects are beyond what any budgetary concession would indicate. How can you measure what it is to inspire a child to chase a dream? This is what you’re casting away, and I beg you to reconsider. I ask you to reverse this decision for the children who would have followed in the graceful, confident footsteps of collegiate athletes had they only seen them train and compete.

Read BJ Bedford Miller’s full letter here.

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2 comments

  1. Leanne Rowland-Slough

    I absolutely adore BJ Bedford! She was my idol growing up. I even got to swim against her

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