Which Style of College Team is For You?

team cheer-kate-smarjesse
Photo Courtesy: Kate Smarjesse

By Kate Santilena, Swimming World College Intern.

College swimming has a lot of similarities among the different schools across the nation. However, one thing that varies from university to university is if that school has a combined men’s and women’s team or not. University swim teams can have one of three styles of team. They can have a combined program where men and women train together. They can have a men’s and women’s team but are seen as completely separate teams with separate schedules, meets, and coaches. Finally, some universities have only a women’s team or only a men’s team.

So, which one is better? Each style of team has its benefits, and ultimately it is a matter of individual preference. However, here is some of the insight on swimming with a combined or separate team.

The More the Merrier?

Team Celebration AV

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Vandermay

While swimming at a university, we make some of our best and longest lasting friendships. We put in the daily grind together both in and out of the pool. Naturally, with a combined men’s and women’s team, we are exposed to more people. This goes to show there are more opportunities to meet and get to know a vast amount of teammates from all over the world.

However, one might argue that because there are so many people on a combined team, we do not have the opportunity to really get to know everyone as we would on a smaller team.


Photo Courtesy: Katie Seaton

One of the most unavoidable things that comes with a combined men’s and women’s program is “swimcest.” If we spend 20+ hours a week with a set group of people while witnessing us at our best and our worst, those devious romantic feelings are bound to arise between some of our teammates. It happens with every combined university team! It can definitely cause some drama here and there; however, “swimcest” is almost an inevitable detail that comes along with a combined men’s and women’s team. Ask any swimmer.

Mix It Up

Meet Warmup

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

Many combined program members will tell us that swimming with men and women makes grueling workouts more fun and sometimes shifts what can be a “cut-throat” atmosphere towards a lighter one. With a combined program, swimmers can battle it out in practice with teammates they would never be able to compete with in a meet normally. In a combined program, swimmers also have more opportunities to mix it up and train with different people in what can be a somewhat repetitive sport.

However, with a men’s or women’s team only, one can argue there is more focus within workouts due to the fact that members are constantly training with the same people and those they would race against.  

Team Bonding

Team Beach Trip

Photo Courtesy: Conor Trimble

Team activities and outings are a huge part of bonding! However, they can be different based on the fact that a team is co-ed or not. Not a lot of guys would want to go out and get pedicures as a team bonding activity, but for an all-girls team, that is something that can be a fun activity for everyone. Activities that a co-ed team might like is a team beach trip, a team BBQ or team holiday party to bring everyone together. The type of team activities will vary depending on the type of university team, but all and all, any team bonding adventure is a good time.

No matter which type of team one ends up on, swimming on a university team is an exciting experience! Many times, deciding whether to be a part of a combined team or not is a matter of preference. There are pros and cons to each type of team, but ultimately each team will be unique, challenging, and altogether unforgettable.

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