WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – After a 3,522-day gap since its last collegiate swim meet, which came on Feb. 12, 2010, Salem College will return to the pool on Saturday, Oct. 5, when the Spirits take part in the Guilford College Invitational at the Greensboro Aquatic Center (GAC).
The Guilford College Invitational will feature a pair of races against Greensboro (10 a.m.) and Guilford (2:30 p.m.) on Saturday afternoon.
Salem, which has 10 individuals on the roster, will compete in 10 meets between Oct. 5 and Feb. 1, including a pair of home meets against Pfeiffer (Nov. 9) and a tri-meet that will also feature Greensboro and Guilford.
In the nine years since Salem fielded a team the Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point) has seen a significant growth in its swimming community, including the inception of the GAC, one of the top aquatic facilities in the nation. Spirits head coach Tim Hillen eluded to impact that Greensboro, and the GAC in particular, is making on the entire Triad swimming community.
"One of the big things is that Winston-Salem is unbelievable in the quality of athletes," said Hillen. "It has Olympians and some kids in the area who are attending Stanford, that competed for Enfinity Swim Program and other programs of that caliber. The great thing about the GAC is that it builds swimming interest outside of Winston-Salem, being that it is right next door, so we have a lot of kids in Greensboro that might not want to go too far from home to college and for college, while at the same time swimming competitively.
"So, they don't mind coming to Salem to be a part of the program here," continued Hillen. "They are building a Swim City, USA, that is not in our town, but close to our town and I like that idea. We are getting a lot of girls, even if it is just 20-30 minutes away from their hometown, so I really like that mindset."
With the swimming boom in both the Triad and Triangle, which consists of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, along with Salem College looking to expand its athletic programs the program was re-established. Data indicates that there are 4,754 girls who compete in high school swim programs across the Tar Heel state alone. Nationally the numbers are even greater with 166,747 girls taking part in high school swim programs (statistics according to National High School Sports Report).
"It was a no brainer to add swimming to our sports offered here at Salem," said Director of Athletics Trish Hughes. "We wanted to add a new program, with the support of President Sandra Doran, so combined with the facilities that we offer and our Olympic-caliber staff, re-establishing the swimming at Salem program at an NCAA Division III level was definitely the best choice for us."
"Trish brought about this idea that we used to have a swim team and then there was a lull in the program for whatever reason," said Hillen. So, coupling myself and Vavina Lapham, along with having 10 girls on this team it made the idea really take off.
"We haven't recruited any of the girls on this current team, but we didn't recruit any of them because they were already in-place on campus," continued Hillen. "There was an absolute want and desire among the campus community to have a team, so we have 10 girls that were already on Salem's campus or students who were immediately interested. That being the case we already have one of the biggest women's teams in the area."
For more information on Salem swimming check out www.salemspirits.com.