Swimmers Defend Wearing Speedos at Sporting Events | Athletic Business

Swimmers Defend Wearing Speedos at Sporting Events

Baruch College’s swim teams are no longer permitted to wear Speedos while spectating at Bearcats athletics events, and they're not happy about it.

Donning swim gear at other teams' games is a years-long tradition that began to erode in 2019, when the New York college's men's and women's swim teams were kicked out of a volleyball match for adhering to this tradition. After being forced to leave, they were told that they could not arrive in swimsuits at the Battle of Lex, when Baruch’s basketball team hosted Hunter College in the biggest sporting event of the year.

As reported by student newspaper The Ticker, the teams voiced their concerns by replying to an email sent by athletic director Carrie Thomas about a Jan. 30 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting during which the Speedo controversy surfaced. Swimmers were not allowed to defend the tradition at the meeting.

"We should be looking forward to what other schools have already implemented into their systems. Wearing what represents us as a person is not met with abhorrence or detestation from the population, but rather strength and courage,” wrote Eddy Min, a member of the men’s swim team at Baruch, which is part of the State University of New York System. 

Morgan Welling, another swimmer, emailed a link of an ESPN video of members of Saint Peter's University attending a basketball game in their Speedos. "Everyone should go check out this link," Welling wrote. "It shows the positive support for all student-athletes regardless of uniform at some other schools."  

The video, which the Saint Peter's basketball team shared with its own fanbase, described the swimmers as an "involved crowd," and the hosts said, "This is what college basketball is all about."

"I find it quite abhorrent that practices praised on national television, by members who have successfully climbed to the peak of their field, are not only absent from Baruch but also strictly prohibited," commented swim team member Evan Nikolic.

Women’s swim team members also condemned this "censorship," as they call it.

"I wholeheartedly agree with the aforementioned statements from my teammates," an email from swimmer Debbie Li stated. "To implement a policy that challenges something that has existed for some time now and is additionally marketed across the B3 walls where recruits, transfers/incoming students, and even toddlers are able to see is incredibly hypocritical and inconsistent on behalf of the Athletics Department.

“SAAC representatives attended the meeting yesterday, and were reminded about this 'new policy' for the Battle of Lex. When we asked to discuss this, we were immediately shut down. So, this is our response. Understand, that the women and men's swimming team take pride in our sport, our school and the other teams. We will not accept this form of censorship."

Rules of conduct distributed by the school in advance of the Feb. 6 Battle of Lex included, "Profanity, racial, sexist comments, or other intimidating actions directed at officials, student-athletes, coaches or team representatives will not be tolerated and are grounds for removal from the premises."

While attire was not mentioned, the SAAC meeting made it clear where the school stood on that topic. Swim team members still showed up for the Battle of Lex on Feb. 6. However, they wore their street clothes.

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