High school swimming in jeopardy in Wilson County

High school swimming in jeopardy in Wilson County (Image 1)

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association doesn't recognize swimming as a sport in the state of Tennessee.

High school swimmers in counties from Sumner to Williamson to Davidson compete every year for their high schools yet their school systems readily admit the swimmers are not affiliated with the schools, instead calling the competition a club sport.

Wilson County has three high school swim teams at Mt Juliet, Wilson Central and Lebanon high schools.  Over the years, the schools have competed against each other.

Now, some of the swim coaches wonder if they will have a season this year.

Alex Major has been a part of the Wilson Central swim program since 2002 and is now the team's head coach.

“I can't even recruit swimmers because I can't get into the school building because they won't let me,” he told Nashville's News 2 Investigators.

Major says suddenly this season is in jeopardy because he can't organize his team because the Wilson County School District doesn't recognize swimming as a high school sport.

Mickey Hall is the Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools.

He told Nashville's News 2 the district is not canceling swimming because “the school system did not create the swim team.”

“We are not telling them they cannot swim,” he continued.  “Somehow the rumor got started we were stopping swimming and that is not the case.”

In addition to swimming, Hall says Wilson County also doesn't recognize the sports of lacrosse and ice hockey and both are also treated as club sports.

Coaches of club sports are not hired by the school district and in many cases, the schools don't know who the coaches are, according to Hall.

He says that opens up a list of potential problems.

“Who is coaching?  What background checks?  What policies and procedures are they following or not following?” he asked.

Major says he fears the season could be cancelled.

He says if the school system pulls its allegiance from the swim team it will hurt young athletes who need the school affiliation to compete on both a local and national level.

“The issue is they want to pull the use of the Wilson Central High School name in relation to the swim team.  That's detrimental to us because our governing body, the Middle Tennessee High School Swimming Association, requires association with a high school by name to be eligible to compete,” he said, adding, “So if we don't have Wilson Central High School's name, even if they say you can operate as you have, we are not disbanding your program, effectively they have, because we don't have the high school name and we need it to compete with MTHSSA.”

A meeting is set for Tuesday, September 4 where Coach Major and others will address members of the school board to try and find common ground.

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