Texas swimming and diving season still in limbo as team resumes voluntary workouts

Brittany Archer

Since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted sports cancellations around the country, Texas swimming and diving athletes have remained in limbo. 

In a normal season, Texas would now be gearing up for the annual Orange vs. White intrasquad meet, with NCAA competition beginning in late October. 

However, even as swimmers and divers practice at the new Eddie Reese Outdoor Pool, the Longhorns’ 2020-21 schedule has yet to be released. 

The Big 12 has already given several sports the green light to play, including football and volleyball, while continuing to monitor COVID-19 trends.

“If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course,” Victor Boschini, board of directors chairman and TCU chancellor, said in a Big 12 press release Aug. 12.

But the conference hasn’t released any information for the swimming and diving season, which typically begins in October.

A Texas Athletics swimming spokesperson said the schedule had not yet been finalized by Texas or the Big 12.

 



With no date in sight for actual competition, Texas swimming and diving student-athletes officially returned to voluntary workouts starting Aug. 26, according to a return to campus plan for the team.

The student-athletes, who are working out in groups of no more than seven, are in Week 3 of a four-week strength and conditioning plan that will ramp up to full intensity by Sept. 25, including an allotted workout schedule at the Eddie Reese Outdoor Pool.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through recreational water. However, swimmers can still contract the virus while interacting with others around the pool. 

Caution over potential spread caused local Austin pools to close over the summer.

“Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through recreational water,” the CDC said on its website. “However, it is important to limit close contact with people outside of your home when visiting public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds, as well as natural bodies of water — like beaches and lakes — to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

To combat the spread of COVID-19, Texas Athletics implemented the disinfection and sanitization of athletic facilities “per industry guidelines,” according to the student-athlete return to campus plan.

Other guidelines included social distancing, strict entry points and temperature checks at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, as well as an increase of chlorine in the pool and “continued use of UV disinfections systems.”

“The rest of our student-athletes in all (nonfall) sports will be arriving soon as our fall semester is quickly approaching,” Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said in a Aug. 18 edition of his Forty Acres Insider newsletter. “We're doing everything in our power to provide that opportunity for our student-athletes, staff and fans in the safest possible manner.”

Fall sports competition officially returned to the Forty Acres on Sept. 1, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby stressed the need for continuation of sports in an Aug. 12 press release about fall sports.

“Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome,” Bowlsby said.