Big news out of Arizona State University today, ASU announced that Sun Devil men's and women's swimming and diving will focus on the 2021-22 season and will redshirt the entire 2020-21 men's and women's rosters.
COVID-19 caused the 2020 NCAA Championships to be canceled. Head swimming and diving coach Bob Bowman announced today that after consulting with his team and the parents of the student-athletes they have decided to redshirt the entire 2020-21 teams and will begin to focus on the 2021-22 season that also includes an Olympic year. The plan is that all members of the swimming and diving programs will redshirt and only train the 2020-21 and be able to keep their spot on the roster for the 2021-2022 season.
In the ASU press release Coach Bowman had this to say,
"In March, Ray Anderson challenged all Sun Devil head coaches to find ways to make our programs stronger after the COVID-19 crisis … This decision clearly accomplishes that goal. It promotes the health and safety of our student-athletes, enhances their educational opportunities and allows time to rebuild and refocus on performing at the highest levels of NCAA competition."
Unprecedented times call for bold actions, and that is just what this is by ASU and Coach Bowman. The plan in place gives students a chance to enroll in classes as a full-time student and will allow for most to graduate within a five-year window.
Due to the virus, athletes haven't been able to train the way they usually would be able to, and this plan allows and gives the time for them to get the time back that they lost. It will also give them more time to prepare for the Olympics.
"With a renewed clarity of purpose, we can shift our focus to long course swimming and preparation for the Olympic qualifying competitions next year …we know this process will best prepare our team to excel at the highest levels of our sport and will take our program to the next level," Bowman admitted in the ASU press release.
Bowman told Sports Illustrated (LINK), "It's been real tough for four months … The hardest part is no clarity, about anything. All our swimmers lost their NCAA (championships) last year. I'm not willing to let them lose two … We have the money to cover it, to make it work. It provides an academic benefit, allowing everyone to concentrate on their studies and maybe leave here with a master's degree. They have the flexibility to train at home while taking online classes if they want, then come back at the semester break. And it helps us competitively—we're going to be better as a team in 2021-22."
Bowman has been with the program since 2015. Under Bowman, the Devils finished 22nd in the 2018 men's swimming championship and the women a close 23rd. Coach Bowman has experience coaching the U.S. Men's Olympic team. He also coached Michael Phelps and currently coaches Olympians Allison Schmitt and Hali Flickinger.
Bold move, but just what the parents and athletes need right now to give them peace of mind in such an uncertain time. Bravo, Coach.