Where’s the love for swimming?

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Joe Sigler

The stands were packed. The team was on a roll. Their 15 game win streak was one of the longest in program history. Their ranking of sixth in the state was the highest in WO history. The Black Hole was filled to capacity and everybody hoped for an electric dunk by Jake Van Tubbergen or Tyler Bosma. The North gymnasium was the place to be for every WO student. If one did not attend the game Friday night, they would be questioned by their friends Monday morning. But would one believe that the boys basketball team is not even the best team at WO? That distinction belongs to the boys swimming and diving team. They just finished off the rest of the OK Red for their fourth straight conference title. They have been ranked in the top 5 in the state the entire season, and they have multiple All-State and All-American swimmers. So why does nobody come out to watch swim meets? It all comes down to the level of action.

  “We know swimming is pretty boring. It’s not that interesting just watching us go back and forth for a few hours,” Soph. Swimmer Derek Maas said. WO’s swim team obliterates other teams. They have not lost a dual meet in over three years. At a basketball game, even a blowout, there are going to be individual battles and fun moments. Both teams will hit shots that get their cheering section going. Both teams will have steals and blocks that, if only for that moment, make the lesser team look like the better team. Something exciting will happen no matter what. That is not necessarily the case in swimming. “Most of the time it isn’t even close. There usually are not any good races. We can go through the entire meet without having anything especially exciting go on. To the casual fan, that must be pretty boring to watch,” Jr. Swimmer Sam Gruenler said.

  The basketball team plays an action packed sport, so they get a lot of recognition from the school. Do swimmers wish students would show up in droves to watch them compete? Do swimmers wish that the Black Hole would chant funny cheers at opposing swimmers and do the rollercoaster before diving? Do swimmers wish they had their time in the limelight? “Yeah, it would be pretty sweet to swim in front of a big crowd. I’ve never really thought about how I would react to a big crowd because I just know it will never happen,” Maas said. “It’d be nice for people to care about us but that’s just reality. Swimming is not that interesting. Basketball is cool. We’ll never get the attention they do, and that’s just the way it is,” Gruenler said. Do swimmers get jealous of the basketball players? “Maybe a bit,” Maas said with a laugh. “Sometimes, but whatever,” Gruenler said.

  The boys basketball team and the boys swimming and diving team are both bright spots for WO sports this year, but only one team gets the recognition. The truth of the matter is, one team plays a sport that gets the crowd going and one team does not. One team puts on an entertaining show while the other does not. One sport is fun to watch while the other is not. There is a reason people go to basketball games and not swim meets: basketball is fun to watch and swimming is not. That is just the reality swimmers have to face.