BRIDGEPORT —The Great Midwest Athletic Conference and the Mountain East Conference have announced a partnership to host a men's and women's swimming and diving championship beginning with the 2017-18 season. The partnership will establish a NCAA conference championship event for men's and women's swimming and diving teams for members of both conferences.
"The swimming and diving partnership with the Mountain East provides the conferences the ability to enhance the championship experience for the leagues' student-athletes," said Great Midwest Commissioner Tom Daeger. "We are appreciative of MEC Commissioner Amos and all involved in the creation of the expanded championship. It is an example of the collaborative spirit in Division II and we are excited to work with the MEC staff as we build this event. We are confident the unification of the two leagues' programs in the pool will provide a highly competitive atmosphere as student-athletes compete for their respective league titles."
"We are very pleased to announce this partnership that will provide a championship experience for our MEC student-athletes and the G-MAC's in men's and women's swimming," said MEC Commissioner Reid Amos. "With this partnership, the MEC will now offer championship opportunities in 19 sports and we hope to continue to expand our championship profile. On behalf of the MEC, I would like to thank G-MAC Commissioner Daeger and members of both conferences who have engaged in this highly cooperative effort for the benefit of our collective student-athletes."
The top 24 individuals in each event will advance to the championship. The meet will include preliminaries with the top eight finishers advancing to finals, excluding the 1,000-meter freestyle and 1,650-meter freestyle which will feature timed finals. Twenty-four places will be scored with each conference naming a team champion in addition to crowning an overall G-MAC-MEC champion. The top three in each event from each conference will be recognized as all-conference performers.
Great Midwest men's and women's swimming and diving teams consist of Alderson Broaddus University, Davis & Elkins College, Hillsdale College (women), University of Findlay, Malone University and Ursuline College (women).
Participating MEC men's and women's swimming and diving teams include Fairmont State University, Notre Dame College, Urbana University and West Virginia Wesleyan College.
West Virginia Wesleyan head swimming coach April Gitzen believes this will be a positive move for both of her swim teams.
"I think it is a good move for both the men's and women's swimming programs here," Gitzen said. "We are now able to get recognized by the Mountain East Conference. It was difficult being in a different conference than the rest of the teams on campus. No one really understood the difference. Now we are on the inside instead of the outside looking in so to speak."
The only scheduling changes the G-MAC/MEC partnership presents for Gitzen is the conference finals will now be held at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, Ohio, on February, 14-17, 2018. Malone University will serve as the host institution for the four-day event.
"We were already swimming against Malone, Davis & Elkins and Alderson Broaddus this year, so not much will change in that regard," Gitzen remarked.
The men's and women's swim teams will open their season Oct. 6-7 in the West Virginia State Games at West Virginia University.