With the fate of college sports this year still unknown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona State swimming and diving coach Bob Bowman isn’t going to take any chances.
Bowman announced on Sunday that they are going to redshirt the entire men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams for the 2020-21 season, according to Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde.
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The team will simply train throughout the year — either separately or together on campus, depending on how the outbreak progresses — and then resume competing next season.
“All our swimmers lost their NCAA [championships] last year,” Bowman said, via Sports Illustrated. “I’m not willing to let them lose two.”
‘The hardest part is no clarity’
Both the Big Ten Conference and the Pac-12 Conference have already announced that they will play conference-only schedules this fall because of the coronavirus. The Big 12, ACC and SEC are expected to announce their plans in the coming days.
Several smaller conferences have canceled fall sports completely, too.
The coronavirus is still raging throughout the country. There were more than 4.2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Sunday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 146,500 deaths attributed to it. The country has averaged nearly 67,000 new cases each day over the past week.
Arizona has one of the largest outbreaks in the country, too. The state has more than 162,000 cases, and averaged more than 2,600 new cases a day over the past week.
Bowman said the school’s aquatic facility is closed due to the pandemic, and he isn’t sure when it’ll open back up. While swimming and diving isn’t in as big of a time crunch as other sports — it’s a winter sport that ends with championship meets in March — Bowman isn’t willing to just sit around and wait for an answer.
“It’s been real tough for four months,” Bowman said, via Sports Illustrated. “The hardest part is no clarity, about anything.
Bowman took over at Arizona State in 2015. He coached 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, served as the United States men’s Olympic team coach and currently coaches a pair of Olympians.
While the idea came as a shock to his bosses and the Pac-12 at first, he said it eventually grew on everyone. Not only will it be beneficial for his athletes’ academic work, but he believes they’ll be a much better team when they return to competition because of it.
“We have the money to cover it, to make it work,” Bowman said, via Sports Illustrated. “It provides an academic benefit, allowing everyone to concentrate on their studies and maybe leave here with a master’s degree. They have flexibility to train at home while taking online classes if they want, then come back at the semester break. And it helps us competitively — we’re going to be better as a team in 2021-22.”
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