DANVILLE — With dramatic eliminations at both the high school and collegiate level over the past decade, these are tough times for many swimming programs, especially for male competitors.
Pools have been filled in with concrete. Scholarships, even partial ones, at many universities are no more.
Even for prep programs who are supported fully by their administrations, many are fighting a difficult numbers battle, like Danville and Covenant Christian, who faced off in the pool Thursday night.
Covenant had four swimmers – Matthew Cinkoske, Andrew Mossbarger, Benjamin Fulbright and Stephen Kilbourn – compete in its 126-26 loss to the host Warriors. They’d normally have five, but Joe Qiu was out to celebrate Chinese New Year.
“He’s an exchange student, so we gave him the night off for the holiday,” Covenant coach Chris Hutchison said.
With five on the roster, lofty expectations give way to realism in regard to team results.
“They know what’s going to happen because of the numbers,” Hutchison said. “At most we can put three guys in one event, but usually we can’t do that. We just focus on the individuals, not worrying about who they swim, but doing all they can do.”
Hutchison said that while there are a lot of good club programs on the Westside, most are filled with athletes from Avon, Brownsburg and Plainfield.
“It’s hard to get them, and most successful high school programs have good feeder systems,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of our kids don’t start until they’re freshmen in high school. Many elsewhere start when they’re 5 years old, which puts us about a decade behind.”
Hutchison isn’t deterred by the challenges.
“There are things we’re gonna try, to work with some of the private middle schools and elementary schools, to promote the sport more,” Hutchison said. “With some of the legislation with vouchers, we can help some kids that before couldn’t go to a private school, and that opens some doors for some kids.We also want to get more kids from our school interested.”