PHOTO GALLERY: USA Artistic Swimming celebrates 2020 Collegiate season

By Emily Falkenberg, USA Artistic Swimming, Communications Coordinator | March 26, 2020, 3:18 p.m. (ET)

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Today marks what would have been the start of the 2020 U.S. Collegiate & National Championship. Instead, collegiate athletes all over the country had their seasons cut short from the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

USA Artistic Swimming would like to thank, encourage and celebrate those athletes that, today, would have been diving into the first of three days of competition at the Skyline Aquatic Center in sunny Mesa, Arizona. 

While it was an incredibly difficult decision to cancel the Collegiate event, USA Artistic Swimming Event Director, Baylee Robinson said the safety of the athletes is always the priority. 

"Canceling the Collegiate Championship was not an easy decision but the health and safety of our teams is most important," Robinson said. "Our athletes work and train hard all year for their final performance and we are disappointed we could not host in Mesa. We hope our seniors will continue to join us for events in the future.” 

Coaches like Shelby Unsworth, the University of Michigan club team head coach, had been training for this meet since September. Unsworth said while she is sad to not be in Arizona today, she knows this was the right thing to do. 

“Of course, this is not how we envisioned our season to end, but we respect the decision to cancel the event,” Unsworth said. “Ultimately, the health and safety of our athletes is the most important.”

Michaela Zimmerman is a swimmer with Wheaton College; she said even though canceling the event was the best thing to do to keep everyone safe, it is heartbreaking to not be able to compete at the meet her team has trained all year for.

"Collegietes is where our teams unite and fight for that one goal and is where we get to celebrate each other, our seasons, all of our dedication, and the sport that has brought us together," Zimmerman said. "My heart goes out to all other athletes, coaches, and teams who were not able to have their last swim, and share the love and hard work of this sport and their respective teams. It's very hard to not be able to compete at this event and represent our school, but it just means that USA Artistic Swimming will be more united and nationals will be even more meaningful and special next year. I know moving forward, all the teams will be swimming with this in mind, and will keep the seniors, and this year's legacy on."

Today, USA Artistic Swimming would also like to celebrate the seniors who would have dedicated four years to compete for their respective schools. Follow along USA Artistic Swimming’s Instagram today as they celebrate every senior athlete and share different highlights from the season.