No qualifying times allows 40 GCU swimmers to compete
By: Julie Laugel/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff
A historic beginning… at a final meet.
This coming weekend, the Grand Canyon University Club Swimming team will have 40 athletes compete in the first-ever virtual College Club Swimming National Championships. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the program will be the sole GCU Club Sport to have a chance at a 2021 National Championship title.
While set qualifying times for each event are regularly required for an athlete to be eligible to participate at nationals, this year, the CCS eliminated cut times and is allowing all athletes to swim in up to four events.
“When they announced that they aren’t doing qualifying times this year, it took a lot of pressure off the athletes because they haven’t been able to train for a very long time,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Phung. “It was a sigh of relief and allowed the athletes to just keep training and focus on nationals without the pressure of hitting a qualifying time.”
“Virtual” means club swimmers can participate by either hosting or attending a sanctioned event/intrasquad scrimmage, or by swimming on their own and sending race times to the CCS. The Lopes will host an intrasquad scrimmage with all races being held on campus at Antelope Pool.
“We were really looking forward to going to meets, competing with other teams, and having that normalcy again,” said Phung. “The team was a little disappointed when they found out that it was virtual, but at the same time, I think they were relieved as well to be able to compete at all.”
Before going virtual, the CCS established “A Cut” and “B Cut” qualifying times. The B Cut times were similar to normal qualifying times, but the A Cut times were lower and would only allow the fastest swimmers to participate if social distancing restrictions were a factor.
“The A Cut times were also a part of the pressure going into the season,” said Phung. “A lot of the athletes knew if they wanted a guaranteed spot at nationals, they would have to make those times, and a lot of the times were pretty daunting.”
Although they no longer determine whether an athlete can participate at nationals, four GCU swimmers made A Cut times.
For the women, Savanna Paredes made A Cut times in the 100 Butterfly and 200 Individual Medley, and Tyree Thomson qualified in the 100 Breaststroke and 400 Individual Medley. On the men’s side, there were multiple A Cut qualifying times for both Brandon Persky (three events) and Sam Jones, who finished 8th in the 200 Freestyle and 13th in the 50 and 100 Freestyle at the 2019 CCS National Championships.
“Allowing everyone to compete gives them a chance to have this last meet to swim to whatever their goals are – whether it’s back at their lifetime best or improving from there,” said Phung. “More so than how our team does, I would really like to see everyone hit their goal times.”
The two-day virtual event begins Sat., April 10, with the first session beginning at 10 am followed by a second session at 3:30 pm at Antelope Pool. Sunday’s sessions will be at the same times.
Interested in GCU Club Swimming? Contact Head Coach Jeremy Phung for more information!