The road hasn’t been easy for the swim team since Title Nine cut the program in summer of 2005 and decided to allocate the funds to other areas of the Florida A & M Athletic Department. Since the program was completely reinstated in January of 2006, the team has faced many hardships.
Budget cuts that would not support the cost of chlorine or the coverage of other repairs needed to make the campus pool safe for the team to swim in has been major so far. This inconvenient situation has forced the team to utilize one of Florida States’ aquatic facilities.
“The team will continue to practice discipline, hard work and building strong stroke techniques,” said Head Coach Douglas Carrington.
Alexandra Age, 17, first-year chemistry student from New Orleans, has been swimming competitively since the age of six.
“It should be a pretty good season we all just have to work together as a team” Age said.
On Saturday, Age was accompanied and supported by her family at the women’s swim meet against the University of North Florida.
Age had provided a strong performance [a strong swim is just a way of saying a good performance], but this is only the beginning of the season and things can only get better.
“Over the next six weeks we’ll be conditioning and tightening up,” Carrington said.
Akie Smythe, 20, third-year international agriculture and business student from Miami and has been swimming competitively since he was fourteen.
“I expect the season to go well because we have unity within the team,” Smythe said.
Team member Jack Delong compared last year’s problems to the current situation this year.
Delong, 21, a fourth-year industrial engineering student from Charleston, S.C., said, “I believe the team will have a much better season than last years season. Last year we had a few prospective members who couldn’t get their transcript situation in order so they weren’t able to participate. We had a lot of enthusiasm but our numbers were smaller so we struggled with points. This year we don’t have that problem.”
There is also a significant lack of support from the university. Spectators in the audience at Saturday’s meet were from Age’s family and fellow team members.
“This season we just hope to gain more support,” Smythe said.
Members of the FAMU swim team are also involved in a wide range of outside clubs and organizations but they collectively have plans on reaching out to the community.
“We hope to do community service preferably within the local African- American community and spread awareness about safety in the water because that’s a topic that a lot of African Americans go uneducated about,” Smythe said.
Coach Carrington said the only thing the team can do right now is wait for the outcome of this season.
“The team is confident about this season, believing that team work will pull them through,” Carrington said. “Over the next six weeks we’ll be conditioning and tightening up. As of right now there is no telling how this season will go it’ll be a wait and see.”