Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The time has come for collegiate open water swimming.

The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association announced its inaugural CSCAA National Collegiate Open Water Swimming Championships that will be held in Lone Star Lake near Lawrence, Kansas.

Student-athletes from collegiate men’s and women’s teams from NCAA, NAIA, CCCAA and NJCAA institutions are eligible to compete in the 5 km open water races scheduled for September 17th 2016.

September’s event is a long time coming and follows USA Swimming, the Special Olympics, Paralympics, IOC, FINA, and American Swimming Association is organizing an open water swimming championship competition.

The 2016 CSCAA 5K Open Water Championships qualification standards are as follows.

Swimmers must have achieved the following pool time standards between July 1st 2015 and the entry deadline:

*Women’s 5 km Race: 5:10.00 (500-yard freestyle) or 10:30.00 (1000-yard freestyle) or 18:00.00 (1650-yard freestyle)
*Men’s 5 km Race 4:50.00 (500-yard freestyle) or 10:00.00 (1000-yard freestyle) or 17:00.00 (1650-yard freestyle)

Registration will take place via Kansas University’s CSCAA Open Water Championship Hub. The CSCAA Open Water Swimming Meet Book is posted here.

A tape-delayed production of the meet will be telecast through Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.

After marathon swimming was added to the Olympic Summer Games,it was only be a matter of time before the collegiate coaches and administrators offerred a national championship for open water swimmers,” predicted Steven Munatones in 2013.

Originally, we thought it might take a generation and depend on younger administrators and coaches to see the value in adding open water swimming, but these types of open water championships have come much sooner as the CSCAA really stepped up. Open water swimming is now following in the wake of the powerful triathlon community that established its own collegiate national championships.”

It makes sense for the collegiate swimming community to get behind the sport of open water swimming and help in its development since a vast majority of the American international representatives are also student-athletes in NCAA institutions. Jordan Wilimovsky (Northwestern), Sean Ryan (University of Michigan), Alex Meyer (Harvard University), Mark Warkentin (USC), Haley Anderson (USC) are the American Olympic representatives.

But athletes like Becca Mann (USC), Eva Fabian (Yale University), Christine Jennings (University of Minnesota), Emily Brunemann (University of Michigan), Ashley Twichell (Duke University), Tristin Baxter (Arizona State University), Lindsay Vrooman (Indiana University), Megan Rankin (University of Florida), Lindsey Clary (Ohio State University), Chip Peterson (University of North Carolina) and John Kenny (Cornel) have also represented USA at the FINA World Championships. Additionally, athletes like Ous Mellouli (USC and Tunisia), Csaba Gercsák (Florida and Hungary), Mazen Mohamed Aziz (Southern Illinois University and Egypt) are NCAA student-athletes who have competed in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.

With the establishment of the CSCAA National Collegiate Open Water Swimming Championships, there will undoubtedly many more collegiate swimmers heading off to compete in international competitions.

Former NCAA swimmers Lexie Kelly (California State University Bakersfield) and Ashley Twichell (Duke University) are shown above during the post-NCAA open water swimming careers.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association