Ten Eckerd club members competed in more than 20 events at the University of Tampa. They swam against students from the University of Tampa, the University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University and the University of South Florida. UT, Miami and Nova Southeastern all boast NCAA swimming programs—but it was their clubs that attended the weekend meet.
Eckerd Athletics (similar to USF) doesn’t have an NCAA swim team among its 14 representative sports. When the College first added its swimming pool and an outdoor recreation and exercise facility in 1963, the pool wasn’t built to today’s Olympic regulations. Still, the lack of an accredited team hasn’t dampened the will to compete for Tritons who had swum competitively before finding their dream college.
Students at Eckerd have the opportunity to establish clubs focused on their interests through an easy application process to the Eckerd College Organization of Students—known as chartering. Potential club heads are asked to submit a form containing a roster of potential members and the name of a faculty or staff adviser. If permission is granted, the club can request funding from an ECOS budget of more than $500,000 to cover needs as diverse as travel to swag to hosting or attending special events.
Swim Club members were especially enthusiastic about the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and the relay events. “I’m excited to see how we work together,” says Rosie Cruikshank, club co-president and senior marine science and environmental studies student from Two Harbors, Minnesota.
The club prides itself on being a community, Rosie says, hoping to “meet others who love the sport and encourage new swimmers” as well as a space for organized workouts.
Most members participated in competitive club swimming in high school, continuing the sport in college casually. Senior animal studies student from Venice, Florida, Alex Bowers says he was excited to return to the sport for personal enjoyment rather than for intense competition. “I’m just doing it because I want to … I’m definitely having fun.”
Kaitlyn Copland, a senior marine science student from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, explains, “It’s nice to come back and swim without the pressure.”
Before the meet started, club members did a motivational, banana-themed chant, shouting, “Go Bananas!”—in reference to their favorite after-swim snack—before jumping in to start the 200 mixed relay. “We’re not afraid to show some personality,” says junior marine science student Jake Bridges, from Lewisburg, West Virginia.
The biggest moment of the meet came when the final scores were announced: Jamie Edwards, a junior marine science student from Henrico, Virginia, received the most individual points for any swimmer that day.
Jamie has been swimming since high school and has always enjoyed the sport. “I like swimming because I want to be a fish,” he says jokingly. “My favorite part of swimming is when you first push off the wall—you speed through the water and it’s so quiet.”
Afterward, the team celebrated with fast-food chicken, congratulating themselves on a job well done before returning to the Eckerd campus to relax. The Swim Club meets twice a week, Wednesdays from 4–5 p.m. and Sundays from 3–4 p.m.