ST. CHARLES, MO – Lindenwood University’s synchronized swimming team has been funded by the school since it started 11 years ago and in that time they’ve won 5 national championship titles.
On the last day of school members of the Lindenwood synchronized swimming team found out their budget was cut for next season.
For some, this program was the reason they chose Lindenwood.
Maria Escalona, a team member from Venezuela says, “all three of us were members of the national team at home. There’s a point where you want to study and do what you love and keep growing as an athlete. I think that a university like Lindenwood being such an elite program can give you that.”
The school released a statement saying in part “the team will still be permitted to represent the university at collegiate events but must register as a student organization…team members will need to provide funding for entry fees, pool rental, and travel to competitions.”
“Unfortunately, this does not seem very manageable just because most of our team members are international students. They do not have the means to legally work in the United States so they will not be able to provide that money themselves,” says Mikayla Francese, former head coach.
“We have athletes that are Olympians, that are world champions, that come here and they’re part of our team. It shows that our team is not just a university team. We bring the team worldwide attention, ” says Kyra Hoevertsz, a team member Aruba.
Last year the team says its budget was roughly $80,000 with two coaching positions and pool rental was their largest cost at about $40,000. But now, with so many questions about next season, tough choices will have to be made.
“We have spent the last six weeks since collegiate nationals planning for next season. Personally, I moved here from Colorado for this position so now I’m kind of deciding what I’m going to do moving forward. Being dropped from a position is very difficult. I think everyone is in the same position,” says Erika Guilbauld, former assistant coach.
Sarlota Lukovysky, a team member from Hungary says, “you build a life out here that you are not willing to leave, but at the same time something that gives you happiness on a daily basis was just taken away from you. It is a really hard decision. Is your sport more important than your personal happiness, your personal life, and your personal growth? That’s something everyone has to decide, but I think this is one of the hardest decisions that we ever have to make.”
They’re asking for the decision to be reversed. If you’d like to show your support, they’d like to email the Vice President of Athletics, Brad Wachler, and cc the Interim President of the university, Art Johnson in addition to the Dean of Students, Shane Williamson, and Director of Residential Life, Terry Russell.