Swimmers challenge alumni

The Florida A&M University swimming and diving team did not let the rain stop the fun as it took on team alumni in the annual Rattler Pride swim meet.

The two teams hit the water Friday for competition in one of the many homecoming events on campus that brought alumni and current students together.

The young crop of swimmers took advantage of their youth and practice time as they came out on top. While the meet was not officially timed, both teams looked to show what they could do in the pool.

“It was all about having fun,” said Head Coach Ian Lee.

“It was more about giving the old athletes a chance to meet our current athletes,” Lee said.

Lee is taking over a swim program that is trying to make waves after being absent from campus last year. The program was one of four sports that were cut in 2005 because of budget constraints.

But now that the team is back on campus, it looks to re-establish its presence.

“We are looking to form a foundation for the next 10 years,” Lee said.

The swim team’s alumni’s visit back to the pool served as a reassurance of the program’s future. Swim team alumna Talia Hicks said Lee is a big part of why the team is headed in the right direction.

“The team’s being cut really did a lot of damage to the program,” said the graduating senior from Cheveroly, Md.

“I’m glad that they have a dedicated coach who is going to take them to the next level,” Hicks said.

Although the team is back on campus, it has experienced the troubles of a developing program.

“Right now we are having a few growing pains. We just don’t have the numbers right now to compete like we want to,” Lee said.

Despite the lack of personnel, Lee said the swimmers he is working with have the right attitude.

“As a coach all you can really ask for is a good core. You want people who have good character and desire. And I think we have that core on this team,” Lee said.

George Oliver, a fifth-year electrical engineering student from Atlanta, stopped swimming in 2003, but said he feels the team can pick up where it left off.

“I think they have some really good swimmers coming in,” Oliver said.

Unfortunately for the alumni, they were not able to shake off some rust to top the current swimmers at the meet.

“It was a lot of fun. We were talking stuff before the meet, so we had to back it up,” said current swimmer Mujahid El-Amin.

“You could tell they were out of shape though. Swimming isn’t something you can stop and come back to,” said the sophomore criminal justice student from Atlanta.

Even though the alumni came up a little short, they valued the chance to have some fun in the pool.

“That was one of the most fun meets I’ve been in. It’s been about two years since I have competed, but I think I did pretty well,” Oliver said.