Giving Open Water Swimming The Old College Try

Giving Open Water Swimming The Old College Try

The triathlon world has long reached into the collegiate community and very successfully worked towards endearing young adults to the triathlon lifestyle.

The triathlon community, at least in the United States, is also working towards establishing an NCAA championship for the sport of triathlons. That elevation in the American collegiate sports system should not be very far off.

The NCAA is currently monitoring collegiate triathlon races because of USA Triathlon’s recent petitions to make women’s triathlon an NCAA Division I sport which would open up the door to college scholarships and funded triathlon teams on American collegiate campuses. With the 11th World University Triathlon Championship being held in Taipei on June 29th to 30th later this year, the sport of triathlon certainly has its reach into the global collegiate community.

And, it appears, that collegiate open water swimming is slowly catching up to the trends in the triathlon world.

Not only has the American Swimming Association being hosting collegiate open water swimming championships for years under the direction of Dr. Keith Bell and Sandy Neilson-Bell, but also more and more open water events are adding a collegiate division.

This is an excellent move to entice the younger generations to pick up the sport that has been so enthusiastically enjoyed by these students’ mentors, parents and grandparents. Many swimmers who may not be optimally suited for a 100m breaststroke, 200 individual medley or 500-yard freestyle may find themselves a perfect fit for the open water, whether it is a 3K race or a channel swim.

As one example, the Gardner-Webb University men’s and women’s swim teams gave it a try at last year’s 2011 Western Carolina Open Water Challenge in Moss Lake in North Carolina which had both age-group and collegiate divisions. In the collegiate men’s 5K race, Gardner-Webb sophomore Sam Wilson won in 54 minutes 29 seconds while junior Liz Van Halsema won on the women’s side in 57 minutes 15 seconds. Sam and Liz also won their respective 2K races in 21:13 and 22:09.

Photo courtesy of Gardner-Webb University.

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