New NCAA Qualifying Formula Leaves CSUN Swimmer Ballard High and Dry

Heather Ballard of Cal State Northridge expected to be in Minneapolis today preparing for the NCAA Division I women's swimming and diving championships that begin Thursday. Instead, the freshman swimmer will remain in California.

Ballard is among a group of about a dozen swimmers nationwide who did not qualify for the NCAA championships because of a qualifying formula implemented this year.

Ballard has posted the 19th best time nationally in the 1,650-yard freestyle, yet swimmers with times as much as 15 seconds slower will compete at the NCAA championships. The NCAA is allowing swimmers who qualified for the meet as members of their school's relay teams to swim in individual events, even though they did not make the time standards for those individual events.

The system has created tremendous disparities in the number of entrants in various events. For example, 27 swimmers are entered in the 1,650 freestyle compared to 68 in the 100 freestyle. The committee allowed 17 individual qualifiers in each event. The other 51 swimmers in the 100 freestyle, for example, are entered because of their relay affiliations. "It is totally inequitable," CSUN Coach Pete Accardy said.

Ballard set Pacific Collegiate Swimming Conference records in four events last month and clocked 16 minutes 38.76 seconds in the 1,650 freestyle.

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