NCAA Swimming Cancellation: ‘Powerful Stuff When You Have to Mess With Kids’ Dreams’

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Miranda Tucker lost her last NCAA championships. Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

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After the NCAA swimming championships were cancelled because of the coronavirus, the emotional toll of the monumental decision began to rise.

Anger.

Sadness.

Disappointment.

Devastation.

While everyone seemingly is on the same page about this having to happen, it still is devastating to athletes missing their final competitions — especially the seniors. It leads to an endless list of: “What ifs?” for NCAA swimming.

“That is the biggest things, the ‘what ifs?’ It was such an abrupt end,” Michigan senior Miranda Tucker told Swimming World.

Tucker was a senior poised to make a run at the NCAA swimming title in the 100 breaststroke.

“It hurts a lot, I am not gonna lie. I had been feeling the best I had all year. Everything was going in the right direction,” Tucker said. “I finally had a true belief in myself. I am capable of great things and I was ready to let it rock.”

She was not alone.

Seniors across the country were looking to make their final mark on the sport.

“My first heart-felt thoughts go out to the seniors. It is an absolute nightmare. It is powerful stuff when you have to mess with kids’ dreams,” Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. “It is like all dressed up and nowhere to go. All the banners were in the pool when we got there, the place looked perfect and then no meet. It was a downer.”

How about the team race? Would Stanford’s depth reign supreme again? Would upstart Virginia or Cal or Tennessee be able to catch them? Could Michigan and NC State break into the trophies? Could Florida surge back into the top 10? Would USC’s relays propel the Trojans even higher this year?

For the women’s meet, the list of senior contenders is nearly too long to list.

Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil, Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson, and USC’s Louise Hansson were all looking to cement their legacy after winning national championships last year.

Stanford’s Katie Drabot was looking for a redemption meet after how her junior NCAAs went.

“It is not easy at all. I wish I had a chance to show everyone what I have been working for this year. This is not the way I wanted to end my senior year. But it is more important to stay safe and stay healthy and try to get back to a normal life,” Drabot said. “One thing that has really helped me is that it is not just me. So many people are experiencing the same thing. That at least is comforting. But I really feel bad for those seniors who same in their last meets without them knowing.”

NC State’s Ky-lee Perry was looking to prove she was an elite sprinter with a fast finish. Georgia senior 200 free specialist Veronica Burchill, OSU miler Molly Kowal, Tennessee’s Tess Cieplucha, Louisville’s Grace Oglesby and Minnesota senior breaststroker Lindsey Kozelsky were all in line to win their first individual title.

How about the what-could-have-been battle between Weitzeil, Tennessee senior Erika Brown and Arkansas senior Anna Hopkin in the sprints?

Or the backstroke seniors with Nelson, Kentucky’s Asia Seidt and Ali Galyer, Florida’s Sherridon Dressel, Virginia’s Megan Moroney and Texas’ Claire Adams.

Those are just a few of the elite seniors who made the NCAA swimming women’s meet.

“I have been keeping contact with a lot of seniors around the NCAA. Lindsey (Kozelsky) and I have been texting each other. We are all in this together,” Tucker said. “All the swimmers have banded together making sure we are all OK and trying to give each other hope.”

For Tucker, Nelson, Weitzeil, Perry and others, that hope is aided by the fact that their swimming careers are not over. They are hoping to compete at the U.S. Olympic trials.

“We can’t just give up. There is still the Olympic trials and the future ahead of us,” Tucker said.

But some of the seniors who missed out are finished. Some made the NCAA meet for the very first time and will never get that experience.

“This is for the greater good and beyond sports,” Tucker said. “But you can’t deny that it is hurting a lot of us. Everything was going great and we were ready to go. We sat down and Mike Bottom’s voice started to crack. I am going through the stages of grief. I was in disbelief, then anger. This is another thing we have to adapt to.  This is something that we are all still trying to piece together.  There is still the understanding that this is something that had to happen for those around us. If one of us got sick, it would affect all of us.”

Tucker’s career has been full of adversity, which doesn’t make this any easier, but has helped her deal with it.

“I have had so many things happen to me in my career help me respond to this. My whole career has been a bunch of rocky roads, tackling my physical health and mental health. If I was able to get through all of those obstacles, this is just another one,” she said. “I hope that this all calms down soon so people can get back to work. But the biggest things is staying healthy and taking care of everyone else around you. It is so much better in the long run. I truly feel for the seniors who this was the end.”

Just about everyone agrees that these drastic measures had to be taken, but the sting and the “What ifs?” will never go away.

Extraordinary Events In Swimming History:

Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan have all had major meets affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while in the United States, the NCAA Championships have been cancelled and USA Swimming has imposed a 30-day suspension on all events, while Canada is considering what to do about its Olympic trials early next month. In Italy, where swimmers are struggling to maintain normal routines, can’t get to practice and in some cases find pool time, a #stopolympics campaign was launched by the Nuoto website calling on solidarity among swimming nations to recognise that Olympic preparations have been blown off course and that it would be in the interests of fairness to postpone the Games for a time of calm beyond the coronavirus crisis. 

Our coverage:

Guidance on Water and Coronavirus 

 

 

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39 comments

  1. Catalina Tamis

    Same feelings for HS seniors, what if’s and season cut short, no championship, no sections and no state. #keepswimming 🏊🏻‍♀️🏊🏻‍♀️

  2. Charlene Tallen

    I wanna add a HUGE shout out to the Denison Women’s Swim and Dive team and all the fantastic swimmers in Division 3 who had their hearts broken as well. I see you and my heart is heavy for our swimmers and divers.

  3. Alex John

    Chlorine kills bacteria and viruses. Keep swimming. These people are altering these kids lives forever. 99.9 percent of the people that make these calls dont know one dam person who has died from this new flu and yes that’s all it is. This too shall pass. Let the kids compete!

    • Rachel Thomson

      Try telling that to the Italians, you may soon eat those words as the US is on the same trajectory as Italy. Its ‘Powerful Stuff’ messing with peoples lives.

    • Alex John

      Rachel Thomson whatever you have to tell yourself. I happen to think for myself and actually listen to medical professionals not politicians and the insanely bias media.

    • Rachel Thomson

      Alex John I am a medical professional (Pulmonologist in fact) at the front line, with colleagues in Italy ICUs and many other countries and very capable of assessing the scientific evidence.

    • Alex John

      Rachel Thomson p.s the italians are not even in the same ballpark when it comes to medical care in comparison to the U.S. Not to mention they have an obama type medical plan which you guessed it, doesnt work so well

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        That’s complete nonsense, Alex. By all means be supportive and positive in your own back yard. Italy has a fine reputation for health care, in fact, and no-one is turned away at the door because they don’t have insurance. Rachel is correct: wherever you are in the world, if your local hospitals have 100 intensive care beds and X staff and they suddenly have to cater for 400 emergency patients in need of ventilation and have X – 2 staff, there are going to be deaths that might not otherwise have occurred. Same with the flu stats, which are often cited without the key rider: 60-80% of all deaths from flu occur among patients that did not get a ‘flu jab. I think it was 2018, but would have to look it up, when the US had a record number of child deaths from ‘flu … and 80% of those children had not had the ‘flu jab, a combination of not taking it seriously enough and people not being able to afford what is a basic care necessity available to all in many parts of Europe from free of charge to low cost.
        I hope it goes well for all out there. Bugs know no borders.

    • Alex John

      Rachel Thomson o good so then you know for a fact that Italy has a dreadful medical plan and completely insufficient funding and medical centers. Which is why the government is giving up on the elderly because they cant afford it. Not here bud sorry. Good luck though, natural selection is a MF

    • Rachel Thomson

      Alex John good luck to you – the US are so far behind already and your health care system may not be as good as you think. Time will tell. Over and out!

    • Alex John

      Rachel Thomson swim and hockey on Monday. My world is normal, besides jackasses running around like the sky is flooding. More people overdosed today than worldwide Corona deaths. We didn’t hear about all those. 2400 died today from regular flu. 3200 today in terboculocis. So no I’m not worried about a 97percent recoverable virus. That you would probably get and not even know. 175k people had it and are done already perfectly fine. We have 2 deaths both older people with major underlying conditions like emphysema.

    • Kimberly Joy

      Alex John my sentiments exactly. I think we needed to keep things going as normal, instead of creating this panic.

    • Elaine Scally

      Alex John – Italy has ICU 3.2 beds per 1,000 while the US has 2.8 beds per 1,000

      The problem is the surge in people needing those beds and respiration equipment at the same time. The Italians were overwhelmed.

      By the way, Northern Italy has great hospitals, I don’t know where you heard differently.

    • Elaine Scally

      Alex John – you’re talking nonsense. An ‘Obama style health plan’ means everyone can get treated despite their income and they will not have large bankrupting bills after.

      My friend son was in hospital there at the end of last year and said the hospitals were great.

      Social care can’t be so bad if they manage more ICU beds than the US.

    • Jamie Reinhold

      Alex John unfortunately she is correct. The system there is considered one of the best. We have friends there. It’s a nightmare because people and governments waited to act.

    • Jamie Reinhold

      Alex John no. It’s because they don’t have the resources to treat everyone.

    • Katy Dean

      Why does this article contain the completely inaccurate statement at the bottom listing “NCAA Division II Swim & DIve CHAMPS now closed to spectators? It’s published yesterday!! Excuse me! That entire Division of Seniors had their final meet blow up literally on their way from hotels to Spire for finals Thursday night. A lot of young adults we’re heading to their first ever certain All American ! All the Divisions matter Swiming World. If your going to completely diss everyone NOT the almighty DI, do it accurately!

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        The list is a chronological order of a breaking news run… that was the news before the decision to cancel, which is also in the list of links.. we can’t just take stories out because they’re been overtaken by events… its a contemporary record.

    • Marisue Horton

      I know I’m not going to be the one to change your mind. I too, just 15 days ago, didn’t believe in the greater effect of this virus. But as a society we HAVE to be willing to learn something new every day. The next 3 posts are from history (we can learn from the past) & 1 from a professional (not political, not media):

    • Catalina Tamis

      a sport that all those kids invested millions of hours of hard work while you ate your donught on the couch

    • Noël Scott

      Marcelo Castro As someone who’s season was cut short in the middle of our NCAA championship, I can tell you it’s not “just a sport.” We’ve worked years for this, we have sacrificed so much to get to this point in our seasons. To be told your season is being cut short & there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, is absolutely heartbreaking. Think of the seniors who this was their last meet, their last opportunity to race and be apart of the sport that we grew up in. I’ve worked 15 years to get to the NCAA championships, up at the crack of dawn everyday, been so sore I couldn’t walk, missed out on so much of life, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the memories i’ve made & i would do it all over again. Clearly you have no idea what being an athlete is like and the heartbreak we all experienced in the last week, missing the opportunity to represent our schools on the biggest stage in collegiate athletics.

    • Marisue Horton

      …if I could offer you advice sir: From another article…”Those not seeing this as a tragedy, or willing to understand the loss through the eyes of coaches or our student-athletes, this is your choice and I invite you to stop reading”

    • Backstreet Destinations

      Jim Grisham there will always be another day…its not the death of the sport. 👍

    • Jim Grisham

      It certainly isn’t. And she went on to have a full and successful life.

  4. Kimberly Joy

    None of this should have been cancelled. They really are overreacting.

  5. Jamie Reinhold

    Very sad for all our people, and it’s going to get worse.

  6. Backstreet Destinations

    It is a shame…I live in Rome and we are living in have a total lock down state. I haven’t heard any of the athletes here complain. And for that matter any of my neighbors.Rather, we are embracing one another in solidarity, singing, playing musical instruments and looking after one another during this sad time that has taken over 1000 lives so far. It’s not the end of the world and the young athletes will have another day and come back much stronger. Be safe America…

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