Swimmers kick off season

Alumni event gets campaign underway

Published On:
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
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Past and present ASU swimmers got together last weekend for the program’s annual Alumni Weekend.

The weekend was hosted by the Sun Devil Swimming Association, and its purpose was to promote support of the swimming program at ASU and to celebrate the hard work that has gone into keeping the team alive.

The weekend kicked off Friday with the alumni mixer.

The ASU Alumni Meet was on Saturday morning at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. The ASU swimming alumni swam against current ASU swimmers, where the current ASU team won.

ASU swim coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker said the support from the Alumni Association is a tribute to the experience the members had when they were at ASU.

“Having a strong support network of alumni is essential to the success of the program, and I’m thrilled that we had so many people come back and have a great time,” she said.

The festivities continued Saturday night with the second annual Dinner Gala, which also took place at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.

Guest speakers at the gala included David Marsh, former head coach at Auburn University and current CEO and head coach of Mecklenburg Aquatic Club, and Bill Rose, CEO and head coach of Mission Viejo Nadadores.

ASU alumnus and associate swimming coach Simon Percy put together the event with the help of members of the Sun Devil Swimming Association Alumni Board. The Alumni Board is made up of eight members, all of whom were former swimmers for the men’s swimming team.

“I wanted to have it here to showcase our facility,” Percy said. “It’s more meaningful to have our Gala at a swimming pool. It’s taken literally hundreds of man hours between the Board and members to put this together.”

The SDSA Alumni Board had a strong support system to help it set up for the event. Parents of current and former ASU swimmers donated their time to help decorate the aquatic center.

Percy said the relationship between the ASU swimmers and the Alumni Association is critical to the success of the program.

“It’s a really good relationship,” he said. “Most of the team was here when the team got cut, so the swimmers know how it feels, and they also have the appreciation for getting the team back, provided by the Alumni Association.”

The men’s swimming program was cut on May 13, 2008, along with men’s wrestling and tennis programs due to funding issues from the University.

Percy and a group of alumni fought to save the team, and they were able to raise enough money to get the team reinstated. The SDSA became official at that time.

Former ASU swimmer and member of the SDSA Alumni Board Emerson Ward took part in the Alumni Meet. Ward swam for ASU from 2001-05, and his personal best for the 100-yard breaststroke was 54.58 seconds.

But Ward admitted he was a little rusty on Saturday.

“[Swimming] was very painful,” Ward said. “I haven’t [swam] in a year — since the last Alumni Meet. It was a lot of fun. It was good to see all the old guys that came into town.”

Sunday, the alumni were invited to golf at the ASU Karsten Golf Course, and the weekend concluded with a barbeque.

The SDSA is actively raising money for the swimming program, and its goal is to raise $7 million by the end of 2011. As of September, it has raised close to $1 million in donations and pledges.

Reach the reporter at nicole.klauss@asu.edu.