BY ADRIAN JARDING | Ball State Sports Link
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The Ball State swimming and diving teams hosts the final home meet of the season Saturday as it takes on Notre Dame. This will mark the first time Notre Dame visits Lewellen Aquatic Center. The dual meet will be streaming live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, produced by Sports Link.
Saturday will be a special meet for the Cardinals as they celebrate Senior Day for both the men’s and women’s teams. For the men’s team, it will mark the first time since the 1990s in which they will have more athletes in a graduating class than what they came in with as freshman.
For those who do not know much about the sport, this is a very big deal to have a school like Notre Dame visit.
Both of Notre Dame’s teams are ranked in the Top 25, according to the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA). Saturday is an amazing opportunity for Ball State to face some great competition at its own pool.
As someone who has been around swimming for 12 years, I wholeheartedly understand the struggle of wanting to be recognized in a world where all everyone wants to talk about are football and basketball.
None of the women on the team receive full scholarships and the men’s team does not offer any at all. Everyone who competes collegiately has a true love for the sport, since very little money is out there.
For better or worse, Title IX has had a huge impact on the sport. I’m not going debate the pros and cons here, but it is important to understand how this has relevance to Ball State.
Since the document was first signed in 1993, many schools across the country were forced to make a decision as to what sports were the biggest money makers. Swimming and diving was not at the top of many lists.
As a result, schools have cut funding either completely or significantly to make sure they could keep their money makers like football or women’s volleyball at the top.
When looking to see how many men’s programs remain, you would notice some big names left out. Clemson, Kansas, Rutgers, Nebraska, UCLA and Oregon State do not have men’s swim and dive teams.
Ball State still has its after then women’s coach, Laura Seibold-Caudill pushed the athletic department to keep them around in 2003. She even gave up some of her teams money to keep the men.
Because of this, swimming has gotten tougher for those who want to train at the next level on both sides. It has also been very tough for smaller schools to compete against top-tier talent.
This isn’t a scenario like football where Johnny Small University can get paid to take a loss against Alabama. Swimming is an individual-based sport where a perfect gameplan can’t take down someone who is faster than you. Hence, there is little reason for top schools to swim against smaller schools, unless they come to their pool.
All of this is why Saturday is exciting for Ball State.
Even though Notre Dame thinks of this as nothing more than a chance for a few extra swims before their ACC’s, they might be surprised how much of a fight the Cardinals will put up.
After all, this is Senior Day and the last time they will compete at Lewellen.
Athletes to Watch:
Ball State: Tanner Barton and Amanda Kedzierski
Barton has been a key points scorer this season. His placing in the 100 butterfly could play significantly into the overall points race. He was also named Mid-American Conference swimmer of the week in January.
Kedzierski has been the biggest individual points scorer in swimming this year for Ball State. She has placed top three in every dual meet so far in the 100 Breast. A top-two finish in that event would be huge in the points race.
Notre Dame: Matthew Grauslys and Meaghan O’Donnell
Grauslys has the 19th best time in the NCAA in the 200 butterfly. Last season as a freshman, he was six tenths of a second off of the school record for that event. Look for his head-to-head matchup against Barton in the 100 butterfly to be among the best races of the day.
O’Donnell has the 38th best time in the NCAA in the 100 breaststroke. She was part of the 400 freestyle relay which broke the Rolfs Aquatic Center record last week. Watch for her head-to-head showdown against Kedzeirski in the 100 breaststroke, as this will be a key points race.