In May 2016, the Citrus College athletic administration teamed together to draft a plan that would add the men’s swim team back onto the Owl’s athletic calendar.
The proposal arrived to the superintendent/president Dr. Geraldine Perri, who accepted the proposal with optimism. The proposal could positively impact Citrus beyond the athletic program.
Since 2011, the swim program has only featured the women’s team. The Owls’ athletic program suffered budget cuts, eliminating the men’s swim team.
Lacking a men’s swim team created two problems that could not be ignored. Players on the Citrus men’s water polo team wanted the chance to swim and some recruits made decisions based on the lack of a men’s swim team.
Jody Wise, dean of kinesiology and athletics, recognized these complications and decided to take action.
“With there being interest and having had a program in the past, we felt that this may be the time to re-add the program,” Wise said.
With the proposal passing, Wise needed a head coach for the men’s team to officially compete.
Citrus could not afford to hire a new coach, which left Wise the responsibility to find a coach already employed at Citrus.
“The only way we would be able to add men’s swim back would be with no additional coaches added as an expense,” Wise said.
The clear choice for Wise was Jennifer Spalding, head coach of the women’s swim team and women’s water polo team, when she arrived at Citrus in 2016. Spalding had notable coaching experience in both water polo and swimming.
When Spalding accepted the head coaching position, Wise shared how her coaching experience would be the key to boosting the men’s swim team. With Spalding’s first year of coaching women’s water polo and women’s swim nearly complete, she already has a strategy in mind for joining the men’s and women’s swim team into one.
“It’s better you bring them together,” Spalding said. “The men tend to push the women, which is actually really good. That’s exactly what our women need right now is the extra push.”
As far as training is concerned, Spalding’s strategy is for all athletes, both men and women, to swim equal distance during practice. However, the men will be swimming each set on a faster time interval.
“The girls already swim a lot of yardage, so it’s not like I have to up the yardage for the guys, I just have to change the time bases,” Spalding said.
One of Spalding’s goals are having enough athletes for Citrus to compete in each event offered.
“Being able to fill all the events is another goal,” Spalding said. “And also trying to have between 15 and 18 guys on the team.”
There is not a fixed number of swimmers projected to be on the men’s team next year. The only confirmed team members are players on the men’s water polo team.
Men’s water polo head coach Kenny Clements will have his players be a part of the team during the water polo off-season.
One of Clements’ water polo players, sophomore James Adams, will be one of the swimmers on the men’s swim team starting next season. Adams knows that being a part of the swim season will not only help the men’s swim team but the men’s water polo team as well.
“Being on the swim team will definitely help us with conditioning,” Adams said. “If we stay in shape, that will help us even more for polo.”
Adams’ water polo teammates will be a part of men’s swim team next season, but the rest of the team is still unsure.
“I know the polo players will be swimming, but I feel like there will be people who are willing to swim on the team that aren’t playing water polo,” Adams said.
Even without a fixed roster, the men’s swim team already has support from the entire Citrus athletic department.
“All of us in the athletic department are excited about adding this sport back,” Wise said. “There are no negatives, only positives. The cost will not be significant and the benefits for our student athletes will be tremendous.”
The men’s swim team returns in spring 2018.