Last year, the association of New England swimming and diving coaches adopted significant changes to the championship meet that is now in its 50th year: splitting the meet into three divisions, reducing the number of entries per team per event from four to three, and consolidating the diving program into the time between the preliminaries and the finals. Andover and a few other programs, including Exeter, voted against these changes.
At the 2012 New England Division I Championships, both the Andover girls and boys competed within this new format, which disenfranchised swimmers and diminished the accomplishments of divers.
After much deliberation, the Andover Athletic Director, Mike Kuta, recently adopted a proposal from Boys’ Head Coach David Fox and Girls’ Head Coach Paul Murphy that the girls and boys teams forgo the 2013 New England championship meet at Deerfield and instead compete at the 2013 Eastern championship meet in Philadelphia. The Eastern championship meet allows an unlimited number of entries per event and enhances the experience of divers.
In talking about the decision, Coach Fox said, “I consulted extensively with the team, and I am so proud that these student-athletes are choosing to forgo the opportunity to compete for another New England championship so that all of their teammates get the opportunity to compete at a championship.”
More national high-school records have been broken at the Eastern championships than at any other meet, and at Easterns, Andover will face internationally known programs such as Germantown, Peddie, and Mercersburg.
“Our swimming program exists within our larger educational program,” said Fox. “Our formal training is limited to the swimming season—mid-November through the end of February—and during the season, our training sessions are limited to ninety-minutes most days. At Easterns, we will be facing programs that train several hours each day throughout the school year, yet we are excited to see how well we compete against these stellar programs. In an age of specialization and high-volume training, we hope to offer a viable alternative.”
Below, you can read the letter Coach Murphy and Coach Fox sent to the association announcing Andover’s decision.
Dear Coaching Colleagues,
Out of respect for you as our swimming and diving colleagues, we write to inform you that the Andover boys and girls will be attending the Eastern Swimming and Diving Championships on the weekend of February 22-23, 2013. Because of the cost of this event—in terms of both funding and time away from campus—we will not be attending the New England Championships this year.
The decision by the association last October to reduce the number of entries per event from four to three at the New England Championships—and the subsequent vote last spring to not allow a fourth non-scoring entry for each event—means that we cannot offer all of our varsity student-athletes a chance to compete at the end of the season in a championship-style meet.
We believe high-school swimming is a team sport, and we feel that denying six to eight varsity swimmers a chance to compete in an individual event at the championship meet conflicts with our philosophies as coaches and program directors. Until last year, all of our kids participated at the championships—a wonderful, culminating event for the entire team and the only opportunity to achieve times after shaving and tapering.
Furthermore, the decision to relegate the diving program to time periods when teammates cannot witness the end-of-season performances of our divers has marginalized the diving program.
We remain committed to this league and to the ideals espoused during the regular season; we simply feel we need to end our season in a way consistent with those ideals as well as with our goals and philosophies.
We will miss the camaraderie of the meet on the first weekend in March.
Paul Murphy, Head Girls Coach
David Fox, Head Boys Coach