Stephens forced to ax swim team

Friday, March 26, 2010 | 6:21 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Stephens College swim team hung up its goggles for the last time this season.

Due to a lack of funding and facility issues, Stephens College is cutting its swimming program.

Athletic Director Deb Duren said the pool is in poor condition and the school doesn't have the money to fix and maintain it. The pool's pump also burned out from overwork.

"At this time in the life of every institution, you are looking to allocate funds to programs that serve the greater needs of the students," Duren said.

Stephens officials declined to comment on the cost of fixing the pool or how much the swim program costs to run.

Stephens cut its entire athletics program in 1988, but it was restarted along with the swim team in 1994.

Laura Wacker, who has been the swim coach for 16 years, said she and her swimmers were under the impression that administrators were going to keep the program alive despite budget cuts.

"It's very sad to have competed in your last competition and not even have known it," Wacker said.

She said the team briefly entertained the idea of renting out the pool at the MU Student Recreation Complex, but the cost was too high. Due to the poor state of Stephens' pool, the team finished out its season at the MU pool.

Wacker said cuts to sports programs concern her.

"In our computer geekdom world, sports are getting less and less attention," Wacker said. "It's a health issue."

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