EMU Budget Cuts Slash Swim Program

Carter Swift traveled 9,000 miles to swim at Eastern Michigan University only to have his dreams stripped away.

 

On March 20, Carter and his teammates were informed that the university had cut the Men’s Swimming and Diving program after 65 years of operating. During the 65 year span, the team won a total of 34 Middle American Conference championships including three in the last four years. Now, with little time left in the academic calendar, EMU swimmers and divers are faced with a variety of life shaping decisions.

 

Carter Swift is a freshman at Eastern Michigan University. Carter initially was born in New Zealand before moving to Australia at the age of nine  with his family. While living down under Carter trained with the Shepparton Swimming Club perfecting his craft. During his junior year of high school Carter was informed of the opportunity to swim in the states on an American Swimming Scholarship. Carter and his mother Michelle Swift then reached out to Noel Greaves, an advisor who was familiar with the recruiting process.

 

“[Greaves] had already guided another Australian swimmer to EMU previously so was very familiar with the team there.” said Michelle.

 

During the recruiting process many schools across the country showed interest in the Australian Age Nationals finalist.

However, “After visiting Eastern Michigan we felt the University and the Coaching staff and program were a perfect fit.” Michelle said.

 

The “perfect fit “ did not last long as the program was cut before Carter reached his second year on campus. Like many students, Carter’s scholarship was crucial to his ability to live and swim in the states. Without it, he wouldn’t be able to relocate from Australia to Ypsilanti. EMU pledged to honor all athletic scholarships but that only solves one half of the equation, for Carter will have to find another university that will award him a full ride scholarship to continue living in the United States.

 

To continue swimming in the United States, Carter is forced to look elsewhere. With a full scholarship being necessary and EMU’s decision to cut the program coming so late into the year, it may be difficult to find a school that can accommodate these needs.

 

Michelle added, “Hopefully his results as a freshman, gaining 3 NCAA B cut times, 2 golds and a silver in individual events and being awarded the MAC Co-Swimmer of the Year and Freshman swimmer of the year trophies will show college recruits he is a serious contender.”

 

Carter disclosed during a phone conversation with Joe Israel, that Grand Valley State University and the University of Tennessee are his top prospective landing spots.

 

Carter’s story is tragic but only one of many that highlights the life changing impact the budget cuts have left on swimmers’ lives.

 

Another swimmer impacted by these changes is freshman Noah Galluzzo. Galluzo, will have to choose whether he wants to pursue his swimming career or continue pursuing his major, Aviation Technology.

 

Noah spent his life training to become a Division 1 diver. “I woke up early in the morning before school to get in the water at 5:30am and stayed late at night to dive and help coach others in diving which took me to about 6:00 pm. I did extra workouts and ran my own in order to prepare myself for college diving.” stated Galluzzo.

 

Unlike Carter, Noah has a back up plan to fall back on if swimming did not workout. It took Noah time to decide what his major would be but he inevitably decided Aviation Technology was his calling. “The search for a college with a diving program and major that I was looking for is very difficult.” Galluzzo added.


However, when Galluzzo found Eastern Michigan he knew this was the university most suitable for his needs “It was relatively cheap, it had the major I was looking for, and had a great and very successful diving program.”

 

Galluzzo expected Ypsilanti to be his home for the next four years until the dive program was abruptly cut forcing him to choose between his passion for diving and a future career in aviation. “With the sudden cut of the swim and dive program, my life is changing in a big way.” Galluzzo explained.

 

Galluzzo is now forced to find a school the offers diving and aviation for the second time, after the first was already extremely difficult.

 

As Galluzzo explores other options, he states his most likely landing spot is the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The fit makes sense for Galluzzo as the school offers diving at the level he has become accustomed to at EMU as well a top class aviation program.  

 

Budget cuts leading to the Men’s Swimming and Diving team ending not only made waves on campus but across the swimming and diving community as a whole. Popular swimming and diving blog SwimSwam.com was one of the first outlets to react to EMU’s decision on March 20th.

 

In a conversation with Editor-in-Chief for SwimSwam Braden Keith, he talked about some of the key takeaways from EMU’s monumental decision.

 

“What’s scary about this for the swimming community is that Eastern Michigan’s men’s swimming team was, with little argument, the most successful athletics program on campus. Teams that performed used to think that made them safer. Now, almost nobody feels safe.” said Keith.

 

In addition, Keith went on to add how “This is a clear message to swim programs – the only way to ensure your safety is to fundraise now, before it’s too late, and launch an endowment.”

 

With the decision to cut the program beginning to take effect the Swimming and Diving program has launched an effort to crowd source the funds the program needs. As of April 16th, the team has raised $25,000 of their $90,000 goal to reinstate the program on GoFundMe.com. If the goal is not met, the money will be reimbursed back to the donors.

 

The decision to cut the program was made with financial implications in mind but will leave life altering changes in its wake not just now but for years to come. Stories like Carter Swift’s and Noah Galluzzo’s are a mere glimpse into the reality that many EMU athletes are being forced to face.

 

The issue of reinstating the program was tackled during the Rally Against Cuts put on by the Save EMU Sports organization on April 16. The event took place outside the Convocation Center during an April snow shower. Not only was the EMU swim team present but neighbors from Ann Arbor came to show support as well.

 

Most notably, University of Michigan Swimming Head Coach Mike Bottom came to speak. In addition to his speech, Bottom pledged $10,000 of his own money to help reinstate all of the programs cut due to budgetary issues.

 

The fight for reinstatement has a long road ahead. The next step for Save EMU Sports comes on Friday, April 20, at 9 a.m. before the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents meeting. At the rally, Save EMU Sports plans to speak their mind and demand answers regarding questions about the budget.

 

Whether or not the program finds the funding necessary to be reinstated will not be decided for some time. These athletes are forced to decide sooner than later whether they will choose to finish their academic career at Eastern Michigan or relocate elsewhere to further their athletic dreams.

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