Aug 20 2020
Nearly two out of five Division 1 girls swim and dive programs have opted for spring competition, according to a WISCA compilation of choices made by teams statewide.
By contrast, only four Division 2 programs -- fewer than 10 percent -- have opted for spring swimming.
Schools have been scrambling to adjust athletic offerings in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several of the state's largest school districts -- among them Madison, Green Bay, Racine, Appleton and Eau Claire -- have opted to bypass the fall sports season and have their athletic teams compete next spring. Other districts have opted to stay with a fall sports schedule, while a few have opted to play some sports like football in the spring while offering programs like girls swim and dive in the fall.
The WIAA's governing board last week created a formal spring schedule and calendar for schools opting to bypass fall sports in favor of spring participation (see: https://wisca.net/swimming-diving-news/2020/8/2403/wiaa-moves-to-provide-spring-option-for-swim-and-dive), and that's been met with a wave of decisions by conferences, schools and districts deciding the fate of their sports programs in the past several days.
The landscape for Division 1 girls swimming will be notably altered (see accompanying chart). The Madison-centered Big 8 Conference has opted out of all sports for the fall, which means teams like Sun Prairie (3rd last year at state), Middleton (6th last year), and Madison West (8th last year) -- all of which return a strong group of swimmers -- will be missing from fall competition. Among the more notable missing swimmers this fall -- Sun Prairie senior Sophie Fiske, a 7-time state champ, unbeaten the last two years at state in both the 50 and 100 frees, and a top recruit for the University of Wisconsin.
All told, 31 of D1's 82 swim and dive programs (38 percent) have opted for a spring season.
It's quite different in Division 2 -- not entirely surprising, as D2 in swim and dive is centered in the state's rural and suburban districts, which for the most part around the state have opted for fall sports participation. Of the 55 D2 programs, only four have opted for spring competition. But those include some of the biggest names in D2 swim and dive: Madison Edgewood, gunning for its 6th straight D2 title; McFarland, state runner-up four of the past five years; and Ashwaubenon, a solid 3rd-place finisher at last year's D2 state meet. All three programs return solid numbers of swimmers from last year's state squads.
It's unclear how -- and if -- the WIAA will conduct its standard post-season series of sectional meets followed by a state meet for each division. The WIAA has allocated two weeks in the fall for "culminating events," but whether that means regional sectional competition followed by a state meet is currently unclear. The WIAA has allocated only one week for culminating events for swim and dive in the spring.
In another development this week, the WIAA has clarified how long swim and dive programs can practice and compete in the fall before opting out and choosing a spring season of competition. Here is an excerpt from the WIAA guidance distributed to athletic directors in the state:
Each sport-specific season in the fall will be classified as complete and ineligible to declare or transition to the alternate fall season in the spring if any one of these three conditions are attained in the fall:
Programs complete half of the number of competitions scheduled with the fall delayed start calendar (number of competitions comprising 50 percent within parentheses):
Boys & Girls Cross Country (6)
Swimming & Diving-Girls (8)
Programs complete half of the total number of weeks independently assigned to each sport (number of weeks comprising 50 percent within parentheses):
Boys & Girls Cross County (6)
Swimming & Diving-Girls (7)
Teams participate in the Tournament Series or culminating events.
Swim and dive coaches are encouraged to talk with their athletic directors for any clarifications regarding weeks spent practicing and competing, as well as their overall meet schedule totals. But for most swim and dive programs opting for fall competition, the WIAA guidance means they can practice and compete in up to half of their regularly scheduled meets and weeks, and still have the option of a spring season.