TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State University swimming and diving team took matters into their own hands as many other collegiate athletic programs are waiting to see if and when they’ll begin.
The coach redshirted every member of the team for the 2020-2021 season.
“The last three months, the answer to every question has been, ‘I don’t know’, and we have to be better than that moving forward,” said coach Bob Bowman.
“This gives us a longer time to rebuild the training they’ve lost during the pandemic, and it’s been substantial. And it gives us a focus on next summer’s meets, particularly our Olympic trials and hopefully Olympic games.”
More than 20 swimmers in the Sun Devils’ program have already qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials. Bowman puts that number into perspective.
“Only about one half of one percent of the swimmers in the United States make the Olympic trials," he said. "It’s a very elite status, so if you have 20 of those, they’re already at the top level.”
Bowman said that a good percentage of the team is looking to compete at the top level, and this measure is set to guarantee that.
By redshirting the team, it helps preserve a year of eligibility in case the season gets canceled like it did last year before the NCAA Championships.
Overall, Bowman has received a positive response to the drastic decision.
“When I first pitched it to Ray Anderson, our athletic director, he gave me the same response that everybody does like, ‘Whoa! What are you talking about?’," he said.
"By the end you’re like, ‘Oh well that makes perfect sense’. And the response was overwhelmingly positive because it puts the athletes first.”
The program has garnered national attention for the decision.
Other programs have reached out to Bowman expressing a desire to redshirt their team as well, but can’t quite get themselves to make the decision. Bowman hopes that will change for the benefit of the athletes.