In the summer of 2005, FAMU’s swimming program was cut because of a lack of funds. However, it was brought back for the 2007 season. That year the team came third in the North Eastern conference for the third time since 2004.
In the past four years, the FAMU swim team has gone through a leaky pool, four coaches, back and forth between conferences and dwindling support. The swimmers all seem to agree that it is because of their pride and love of the sport that they return to the water every day.
“The main thing is the love for swimming,” said Gregory Lowe, a fourth-year free stylist and breaststroker. “Everybody in the pool now loves to swim, you know. They’re here to get faster. It’s really not about what other people think of the swimming; it’s their love for the sport.”
Lowe said that like any team that is always together, the members build a strong bond and a deep understanding for one another. Lowe also said all the people in the pool are his family and he is going to stick around for his family.
But with dying support and recognition, the morale of the team gets dimmer by the day.
“It just seems like when we try to go uphill we always end up going down,” Lowe said.
Many swimmers either stopped swimming or transferred after the team was cut in 2005, leaving the Rattlers with seven male swimmers, three female swimmers and one diver on the official roster. After the team was cut, funds were still too low for the Rattlers to have uniforms.
Yolanda Baylor, third year 100/200 freestylist and 100/200 backstroke, said that as a result, everyone wears something dissimilar during meets.
“We have a lot of swim caps,” Baylor said. “We look like the grab bag, you know, like, everyone has something different on. It’s not a lot of unity with our uniforms.”
Mujahid El-Amin, third-year flyer, agrees with Baylor. He said at the previous conference, it was disappointing to look around and see everyone on the other teams matching and looking like they are together.
“We were basically scattered everywhere simply because we didn’t have on any of the same attire,” El-Amin said. “Yes, swimming is an individual sport but we collectively gain points as a team and even that changes the morale of a team.”
The swim team agreed that they have not stopped hoping for change and want to let people know who they are.
“We’ve been through a lot, and we want things to get better,” Baylor said. “Everyone here knows that things probably won’t get better until we leave, but we would like to see things get better eventually even if we’re the ones going through the fire.
We just want to see some progress being made and some stability with the program,” Baylor continued.