The Rise of High School Swimming

Zachary Muragaki, Reporter

Swimming is a sport that is underrated in the FCPS system. Throughout my years as a student at Urbana High School, I have seen time and time again a void of respect and attention for swimming that is otherwise seen in other sports.

While going around and interviewing students and teachers, I asked the question: “Do you consider swimming a sport?” A common answer I received was, “Unless there is a ball involved, it isn’t a sport.” I can see where this lack of understanding comes from, though it’s a sport that is in the Olympics, and it deserves a more solid following than it currently has in the Frederick County athletics system.

While each school primarily has its own stadium which includes a track, football, soccer, field hockey field, etc., swimmers who are a part of their home school teams find that there are only two U.S. standard level facilities available. “Teams have to coordinate with other schools in order to make sure every school team is getting a fair practice time,” said Jackson Shipley, one of the Urbana High School swim team captains. 

This is a major issue. Why do the other sports get such attention and funding while swimming gets the bare minimum to stay afloat in the community? When I talked with other swimmers, they expressed their opinions on the matter. Luca Tolino is a club swimmer for M.A.C. aquatic club, which practices at Hood College six days a week (multiple times the average amount of most high school teams). Tolino stated that “high school swimming is a joke,” and unfortunately he isn’t wrong. There is a major gap between swimmers who work with club teams outside the FCPS system and those who work solely inside it.

Part of the problem might be in the vetting process for high school swim teams. The only requirement for being part of the team is to attend all practices, students are told during the fall information meeting for prospective swimmers. This is a major issue because swimming has no longer become a test or celebration of skill. We’ve taken quantity over quality; FCPS swim coaches are looking for as many swimmers as possible regardless of their abilities. This policy shows that the main interest isn’t in the sport itself, but in winning. And that’s all well and good. But in reality, who ever learns anything from winning based on the fact that your team has more members?

I call for the bar to be raised. Raise the bar so that FCPS swimming can be respected as a proper sport and not a joke to both the athletics and swimming community. What is needed is more facilities provided for teams to train, and better equipment to boot. Every athlete should have a fair chance to shine, no matter what sport they play.