The Week That Was: Ivy League Cancels Fall Sports, Dartmouth & Stanford Make Sport Cuts

Competitors dive in during the 100 yard backstroke during a swim meet between Columbia and Harvard Universities at Harvard College on Friday November 16, 2018. Photo by Joseph Prezioso
Photo Courtesy: Joseph Prezioso

The Week That Was is sponsored bySuit-extractor-logo

The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

It has been a grim week for the sport of swimming, with Dartmouth cutting its swim team and Stanford cutting its synchronized swimming team, effective in the spring of 2021. The Ivy League also announced it was cancelling fall sports for the time being because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read below the five biggest stories in The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #5: Spain Intends to Return to Racing Pool in August

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

The Spanish swimming team, led by Olympic 200m butterfly champion Mireia Belmonte, is planning to return to racing at the Loulé Meet in the Algarve if the Portuguese event goes ahead on August 14-16.

The Royal Spanish Swimming Federation (RFEN) has named a travelling squad comprised of members of the senior and junior national teams, down to test themselves for the first time in racing during COVID-19 season at the Loulé Meet.

The plan is subject to developments in the coronavirus health pandemic. For now, the border between Portugal and Spain remains open but Spain witnessed a surge of new COIVID-19 infections last weekend. While the surge involved dozens of outbreaks across the country, the worst-hit areas, in Galicia and Catalonia (where several key swimmers, Mireia Belmonte included, live and train), returned to lockdown to stem the spread.

#4: China Cancels International Sports Through End of Year

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Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

By John Lohn, Associate Editor-in-Chief

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that China will not play host to any international sports competitions through the end of the year, except for events connected to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and its neighboring city of Zhangjiakou. The decision was made to neutralize the possibility of COVID-19 cases being transmitted by visiting athletes, and others associated with the scheduled sporting events.

The decision was handed down by the Chinese General Administration of Sports and affects events across a variety of sports. For swimming, the ruling means that the FINA World Cup stop in Jinan will not be conducted. The Jinan leg of the World Cup was scheduled for September 10 and was to be the second stop behind the opener in Singapore, which is scheduled for September 4.

The Week That Was #3: Dartmouth Cuts Swimming

Dartmouth Team - Goldminds Swimming World August 2019

By Dan D’Addona

Dartmouth announced on Thursday that it will eliminate five varsity athletic, and several staff positions, including men’s and women’s swimming.

Dartmouth concluded the change would give school more flexibility in admissions, reducing the number of recruited athletes in incoming classes by 10%. The move also contributes to the steps Dartmouth is taking to address budget challenges, including a projected $150 million financial deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to swimming, Dartmouth cut men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing, dropping to 30 the number of varsity teams. A total of about 110 student-athletes participate on these five teams.

#2: Stanford to Cut 11 Sports Including Synchronized Swimming

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

Stanford University announced it will discontinue 11 varsity sports after the 2020-21 school year with synchronized swimming being one of the aquatic sports victimized by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an open letter sent out by the university, the university will discontinue men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling. All of these teams will have the opportunity to compete in their upcoming 2020-21 seasons, should the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 allow it, before they are discontinued at the varsity level.

Twenty support staff positions are being eliminated as part of this realignment. More than 240 student-athletes have been affected, as the impacted sports will be moved to the club level after their upcoming varsity seasons are complete, assuming there is sufficient student interest in continuing.

“We will do everything we can to support the student-athletes, coaches and support staff members affected by this decision,” the letter said. “We will honor all existing athletics scholarship commitments to the student-athletes throughout their undergraduate experiences at Stanford, and we hope they choose to remain on The Farm and earn their Stanford degrees. Should any student choose to continue their collegiate athletics career elsewhere, however, we will support them in every way possible. The contracts of affected coaches will be honored, and any support staff whose employment is ending will be provided with severance pay.”

The Week That Was #1: Ivy League Makes Huge Decision to Cancel Fall Sports

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What will happen to the swim season for Ivy League athletes? Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By John Lohn, Associate Editor-in-Chief

The Ivy League officially decided on Wednesday to postpone its fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will not entertain any sports beginning play until after Jan. 1, 2021. The decision, which was expected, was reported by CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein, and confirmed by the conference in a release. The Ivy League’s fall sports include football, field hockey, soccer, cross country and volleyball, and whether their seasons will be played in the spring will be determined at a later date.

Reports also indicated that the Ivy League will make a decision in mid-July on the fate of winter sports, including men’s and women’s swimming. Those sports typically begin practice in the fall, but that scenario seems unlikely with the Ivy League putting a halt to fall athletics through the end of 2020 – at the earliest.

Pertaining to swimming, the biggest question mark following the Ivy League’s decision is how it will affect the conference’s top Olympic hopeful, Dean Farris of Harvard. Farris is a contender for Olympic berths in a handful of events and spent the last year training under Eddie Reese at the University of Texas. However, Farris intended to return to Harvard for his senior campaign. Harvard already announced on Monday that the school will only be bringing students back at 40% capacity this coming semester.

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