The swim season may be over and the results were not lackluster, but with a boost in funding, the team could be on its way to better seasons.
Scholarships were granted this season to a pair of Cal Poly swimmers for the first time ever.
Thanks to money earned through the Dick Anderson Endowment Fund, John Michelmore and Kira Linsmeier both received athletic scholarships.
“(They’re) our senior captains who basically had the talent and the time to get scholarship money at other schools,” swim coach Rich Firman said. “Finally, as they were seniors, they got some scholarship money here.”
Sophomore Stacey Sorensen and junior Erin Grimm also received scholarship money as a result of increased funding for the program.
Michelmore was one of Cal Poly’s top finishers at the Big West Championships this season. In his top event, the 200-meter breastroke, Michelmore finished third with a time of 2:02.97.
“It feels really great,” said Michelmore of being the first swimmer to get a scholarship. “It shows there are a lot of people out there who care about our program. It’s been a long time coming and it means a lot for our entire team and in the future.”
“It’s quite an honor to be the first one to get (a scholarship),” Linsmeier said. “I think we’ll get more and more throughout the years and it’s going to help the team a lot.”
According to senior associate director Phil Webb, the men’s team was awarded .98 scholarships and the women’s team was awarded 3.48 scholarships for the fiscal year. Each full scholarship is worth $12,875.
Firman thinks providing better funding to a struggling swim program may allow the swim team to become contenders in their league.
“We used to be fairly competitive within our league,” Firman said. “We could go in to a dual meet and it would be push and shove whether we beat Northridge or we beat Irvine – When Davis and us were Division II together we were fairly similar – Since then, Davis, Northridge and Irvine have all added almost full scholarships and we can’t even touch them now. So this is going to be big for us. Being able to add scholarships and bring people in is going to allow us to be competitive again.”
Finally being able to offer scholarships to prospective athletes has made Cal Poly’s swimming program more enticing to recruits.
“Next year we get a little bit more money, and we’ve already signed a high school All-American in the early signing for the girls,” Firman said. “The effects are already here. If I didn’t have the scholarship money to offer that girl in the early signing period, she would have signed elsewhere. Since I was able to put together a package for her that made Cal Poly academically and financially viable.”
Adding high-caliber swimmers to the program will only strengthen the program and Cal Poly can only wait and see what follows from there.
“I think if we produce some results, it’s just like any team at Cal Poly,” Firman said. “The teams that are loved here are the teams that produce results, that win games and send people to nationals.”