Manditory Swim Tests Are Not Outdated at Some Colleges
> 5/8/2006 1:17:53 PM

Despite the seeming irrelevance of the requirement, some colleges still insist that students pass a swimming test before successfully completing their education. University of North Carolina is the latest school to scrap the requirement that students swim 50 yards and tread water as a prerequisite to graduation amid reports of students unable to graduate seamlessly because of an absent or unsatisfactory swim test result. Its a small but present problem within the program which, according to Colgate biology professor Ken Belanger, leads administrators and students to "question its validity."

One can certainly understand the neccessity of swim tests at a military school like West Point, where all aspects of physical readiness are closely monitored in students preparing for military positions, or the Naval Academy, where each graduate must swim 1000 yards in 40 minutes or less. Perhaps the requirement at state and local colleges amounts to an institutional antiquity. Still, such practices may, in their own tiny way, further prepare students for cases of geographical inconvenience. As UNC's Meg Pomerantz argues, students should be aware of the fact that "You don't really have a choice if you fall in a lake," and that those educated in the possibilities of aquatic danger will raise better-prepared children.

Schools who stick to the principles embodied by standard swim tests include Swarthmore, Dartmouth, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Columbia, which has, at times, addressed the issue in a humorous context with a swim test party offering free food to those who show up for their tests in order to prevent the horrific "Must Satisfy Swim Test Requirement" statement from soiling their transcripts. Let's hope that, in an instance of applied knowledge, they save the pizza and sodas for after the pool.

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