Virus Dashes NYU Swimming and Diving Team

26 NYU Swimmers and Divers Were Headed to NCAA Championships

By Anthony Paradiso

Students and student athletes were eagerly awaiting the coming of spring at college campuses throughout the country. At New York University, which has many dorms and campus buildings around Washington Square Park, five varsity spring sports teams were preparing for the warm weather and taking to the field in the spring.

On March 13th, NYU cancelled all its activities related to spring sports due to the rise in cases of the coronavirus in New York City. Although spring athletes had to stow away their equipment and stop preparing to play this season, the NCAA has offered opportunities for student athletes to reclaim their lost season.

On March 30th, the NCAA announced it would be offering an extra year of eligibility for spring sports student athletes who participate in all three NCAA divisions. Those who play baseball, softball, or lacrosse will be permitted to apply for a “season of participation” waiver. I called the NCAA office of eligibility. They said that student athletes returning to participate in another season would have to be full-time students when they do.

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SWIMMERS at their starting blocks. Image credit: NYU Sports Information/New York University.

No doubt, it was tough for the university to end a season for students preparing to participate in the NCAA championships. Trevor Miele is NYU’s head coach of the women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams. Twenty-six male and female members were going to the NCAA Championships in March. They were going to be the largest swimming and diving teams that NYU had ever sent. However, swimming and diving is a winter sport so its athletes will not be able to apply for another season of participation. “All year long we’re beating them up and breaking them down in the pool with the goal of swimming fast [and more competitively] in mid-March. We were in the middle of practice when we found out and it was gut-wrenching. We understood what the NCAA was doing and why they were doing this, but it didn’t make it any easier, especially for the seniors who [will] never get to represent NYU again.”

Miele also described how it may have felt for seniors, looking forward to their last shots at athletic glory, having their careers cut short so suddenly. “The other thing is, the NCAA season was over in a second. Usually, [student athletes and coaches] have team meetings and dinners, all these events that reflect back on the work you’ve done, and they don’t even get that. It’s a tough thing to put all that work in and not get recognition for all that work.”

Jeffrey Bernstein is the assistant athletic director for sports information at NYU. He explained how he feels about the university’s response to the coronavirus crisis. “The feedback we’ve gotten is that, while disappointed, most are totally understanding of what we’ve had to do and basically what everybody has had to do. We tried; we held out for as long as we could. When the safety of our students and student athletes is at a premium, we had to make the decision to shut everything down.”

Growing up, I used to ride with my dad to his office in Tribeca. I would always look forward to seeing the light at the end of the Holland Tunnel after riding through it. I asked Bernstein if he had heard when the university administrators are considering resuming sports activities. He said, “Discussions about the fall are ongoing. Different scenarios are being discussed, but it is too premature to make any decision.”

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