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Swim Test

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All UNC undergraduates are required to take a swim test in order to graduate until 2006. Legend has it that after the drowning of an alumnus, loved ones donated money to the school with the stipulation that all students must know how to swim. This myth is actually not true and, in fact, can be heard around campuses throughout the US. A compulsory swim test was implemented at UNC for men in 1944 and women in 1946. The idea indirectly resulted from World War II. In 1942, UNC was designated as a pre-flight training program by the US government, and the university was awarded funds to construct several structures on campus including the ROTC building, the outdoor pool, and the indoor track (then known as the "tin can" and very much different from the current indoor track facility). Obviously, the midshipmen (among them George Bush, Sr.) who were a part of the pre-flight training program had to learn to swim. During and after the war, national debates and discussions centered on whether America's youth were fit enough to defend our country. As a result of these debates and discussions UNC revamped its physical education requirements. It increased the physical education requirement and added the swim test. The swim test remained as it was implemented until the 1970s when it was changed to its current requirement. The requirement will not be a part of the new undergraduate curriculum when it is implemented beginning Fall 2006 [16].

The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill

All Text and Photos © 2004.