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On signing day, no letters to sign for three Maryland high school swimmers

By Bryan Flaherty

Tuesday, news broke that the University of Maryland Athletic Department would be recommending to the university's president to cut the men's and women's swimming programs, along with roughly one-third of the athletic department’s 27 sports.

On the eve of the early signing period for NCAA National Letters of Intent, three area high school swimmers — verbally committed to swim for the University of Maryland next year — were contacted by the school’s athletic department and told that Maryland would not be sending out letters to swimming recruits, and they should pursue offers from other institutions.

Natalya Ares (Churchill High School/First Team All-Met), Ellen Anderson (Gaithersburg High School/Second Team All-Met), and Morgan Whyte (St. John’s College High School/All-Met Honorable Mention) were expected to officially sign with Maryland this week. They were left stunned and looking for new teams instead.

Ellen Anderson had talked with an assistant athletic director at Maryland on Monday, who told her to expect her letter of intent to arrive via FedEx. The next day she was told she would not receive a letter and there might not be a program at Maryland at all.

“I was shocked. I didn't believe it at first,” said Ellen. “I was excited about Maryland. I felt like something special was going on there. Everyone was there to compete, to get the program back to where it had been.”

In the recent CSCAA poll, Maryland women ranked 19th in Division I. Maryland has won an ACC Women's Swimming Championship as recently as 2005.

When rumors began to circulate on Tuesday, Ellen's coach, Bill Shechtman of Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club, pulled Ellen from the dry land practice to break the news and tell her to start calling other programs who had made offers to her.

Bill said, “I told her she couldn't wait till spring, the money wouldn't be there then.”

Ellen immediately re

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ached out to several schools. “They were very helpful. They wanted to help me find the right place for me,” said Ellen.

She ultimately decided on Northwestern University.  She said she plans to sign there this week.

Morgan Whyte made her decision to attend Maryland nearly six weeks ago and had stopped looking at other programs. The former Curl-Burke swimmer had left her club swim team to focus on preparing herself for the academic rigors of college during her final year at St. John's. Now she is trying to figure out her future. Again.

“The unfortunate reality for these swimmers is that programs that may have been interested in them three months ago have filled up the spots on their teams,” said Riley Eaton, General Chair of Potomac Valley Swimming. “[College swimming recruitment] is a brutal process to go through. But once you've made your decision, you're able to breathe a sign of relief. Now these swimmers are looking for scholarship money that has already been given out. “

Top collegiate swimming programs often conclude their recruiting processes early in the year, signing most of their recruits during the early signing period.

Eaton added, “The PVS is disappointed in the removal of any opportunities for [Potomac Valley] swimmers and supports the efforts to help save the [Maryland] program.”

The University of Maryland is one of nine universities within the organization's domain and has three former PVS swimmers currently on its teams' rosters.

The Facebook group “SAVE UMD SWIMMING & DIVING” has topped 10,000 members in just a few days, and the Twitterverse has been abuzz with the hashtag #saveUMDswimming, including shout outs from Maryland-native Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman, the head coach at North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

Maryland becomes the second ACC swim and dive program to be put on the chopping block in recent history. Last year, Clemson University announced it would be phasing swimming out over a two year period starting in 2010.

The reality remains that the university's athletic department has to make cuts to the budget, as the current deficit is expected to swell to $17.6 million over the next five years.

However, without substantial support in the form of outreach to the university's president and monetary donations.

The University of Maryland men's and women's swim teams face-off against UMBC on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1:00pm, at the Eppley Recreation Center, College Park, Md.


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9 Responses to “On signing day, no letters to sign for three Maryland high school swimmers”

  1. Sprint guy says:

    Go you Terps.

  2. don says:

    What a disappointment for those kids.You work your but off for years with the dream of getting to swim in college and finally get there, only to have the rug pulled out from under you at the last minute.

    I am really hoping area parents get on the save UMD swimming bandwagon. whether they realize it or not,they all have a vested intrest in what happens at UMD.

    I am disappointed these stories are not getting more comments. 50 parents will post if their kid doesnt get their name in the paper . Parents of swimmers should be outraged at what has happened at Clemson and now UMD. Two great schools that recruited a lot of area swimmers over the years and now it looks like our kids will have 2 fewer choices.
    Bryan, thanks for the coverage. Good topics and good writing.
    Good luck to the 3 swimmers in the article too.

  3. Terp Parent says:

    Stay tuned people, we are meeting with President and if allows us to raise money, you all will be hearing from us!

  4. rip says:

    hey rftw,
    at the national age group meet this past weekend, katie ledecky destroyed the NAG in both the 500 and 1000 free by four seconds, as long as the results are right. just thought i’d let you know.

  5. Nestor says:

    I’m Natalya’s dad, and I wanted to thank everybody for all the support she received from area swimmers, parents and even Universities. It was a difficult week, but she is ok now.

    Thank you for the coverage!

    We all went to support the UMD team to the meet in Maryland, on Saturday!

  6. Sting Ray says:

    What a disappointment for swimmers if UMB drops this program. I hope the Facebook group has some effect and this is not already a done deal!

  7. weswim says:

    The leadership and finances at UMD are just devastating to the swim programs there. Despite the world class facility in College Park, the economics of the natatorium are killing the program. Considering the vast swim community in Potomac Valley, the demolition of the team there is an embarrassment to all the local families with kids in swim clubs.

  8. fuzzy says:

    What a dissapointment; UMD is finally multiple top talent from its own backyard and then the school cuts the team.

  9. Widebody says:

    It’s not the economics of the Natatorium. It’s the economics of football and basketball.