Swimmers train hard year-round to remain competitive, despite being underfunded by the university. Photo by Nita Evans
Swimmers train hard year-round to remain competitive, despite being underfunded by the university. Photo by Nita Evans

The UC Santa Cruz swim and dive team is built on the principles of self-reliance. As the University of California faces complicated economic times and continuous program cuts, the swim team has managed to financially support itself for the past decade through the annual Ian Carney Memorial Trans-Bay Swim fundraiser.

The relay, which took place on October 5th, included two teams of six that swam a total distance of 26 miles, from Santa Cruz to Monterey. Each swimmer swam for 20 minutes before being rotated out. This year’s winning team completed the entire relay in nine hours and fifty minutes, five minutes shy of the event record set in 2000.

This year the team raised $11,000 from the Bay Swim, up $1,500 from last year. Senior co-captain Matt Nauman says this money goes a long way towards ensuring the team has everything they need to compete during the season.

“The money mostly goes towards travel cost for the team, and entry fees for the swim meets we participate in,” Nauman said. “It also is used to supply new equipment for the team, and keep our facilities up to par.”

The team receives little funding from the athletic department, as their financial resources are extremely limited. UCSC’s total athletics budget is $750,000 — more than one million dollars short of the average budget of a Division III university sports program. Athletic director Linda Spradley agrees that the help the team does get from UCSC is meager.

“The swim team gets around $30,000 for operation money, which is not that good at all,” said Spradley. “That’s not even a salary for the coach, or money to go towards the team’s travel or anything.”

In addition, UC Santa Cruz currently has the minimum amount of athletic teams required for a Division III program, so if the school were to drop any more programs it would no longer be a part of the NCAA.

“We can’t cut back anymore, we just can’t,” Spradley said. “We have the minimum staff across the board, in every aspect of the department. In essence, you can’t get blood from a turnip.”

Swim and dive team coach Kim Musch says that the lack of financial assistance on behalf of the UCSC athletic department hasn’t impeded the team’s success in the pool, however.

“The athletic department does what it can; some funds from the chancellor come to us and that’s great,” Musch said. “But really, we are self-reliant, and we are definitely not spoiled. We go to meets against Division I schools and get really great results despite our budget being a lot smaller than many of theirs.”

Nauman agreed with his coach, adding that the team is accustomed to not relying on the school for help.

“Athletics, period, are just not a high priority for funding by the school,” Nauman said, “and that’s the way it just has always kind of been, so we just do what we can and rely upon ourselves to make it through the season.”

Senior co-captain Brenna Sullivan is just grateful that the team still exists amidst the economic problems plaguing many universities.

“I’m just thankful we’re still around,” Sullivan said. “Schools like Pepperdine, UC Irvine and the University of Washington have all just recently dropped their swim programs.”

Although Coach Musch feels the team is safe from such extreme scenarios, he still believes they deserve more financial support from the school.

“We cost so little to run and have at the school. It’s not like very much money is saved by cutting athletics … athletes are the people getting the job done, these are the people getting the school recognitions, and these are the people we need to support,” he said. “Give us something.”