NEISDA History




The first Men’s New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championship were held in the Boston YMCA on March 13, 1920. M.I.T. won the championship followed by Yale, Harvard, Williams, Brown, and Amherst. The next three meets were held in the same pool. The events for the first two meets included; the 50 yard freestyle, the 100 yard freestyle, the 220 yard freestyle, the 200 freestyle relay, the plunge, and fancy diving.

The subsequent meets were held in the University Club pool which was the home pool for M.I.T. In 1923, Amherst College was the host institution in the Deerfield Academy pool. The meet then moved to Dartmouth College in 1924 and 1925. After a great deal of promotion on the part of Hugh McCurdy, the association finally agreed to host the 1926 meet in Wesleyan's 20 yard pool. The Wesleyan pool was the only adequate facility of the member institutions. The Amherst pool was too narrow and rough and Brown had only two lanes. M. I.T. had no pool of their own and the Williams pool lacked ceiling room for the diving events. In 1928, Williams built their first pool and held the meet that year.  Jack Rothacker, the Springfield College Swimming coach, said in 1928, "A more complete and perfect equipment could not be found for an event of this kind."

The early years were difficult financially. Gold filled medals were awarded to first place winners only. The Association voted that the championships must not cost more than twenty-five dollars.  In 1923 the meet showed a loss and it was necessary to asses each member college ten dollars in order that the association remain in the black. In 1931 Hugh McCurdy of Wesleyan became the first treasurer.

In 1920 at a meeting of the New England Conference President Wittier of Bowdoin was instructed to a appoint a committee to draw up a plan to organize a New England Intercollegiate Swimming Association that would foster swimming among the colleges of New England. He appointed Dr. Allen Rowe from M.I.T., Dr. Edgar Fauver of Wesleyan and Mr. Richard Neligan of Amherst to organize a committee that would oversee the construction of the league.

On October 16, 1921, the following representatives met and formulated a constitution, bylaws, and rules that would govern the New England Swimming League: Paul Phillips of Amherst, Dr. Fred Marvel of Brown, Dr. Sydney Hazelton of Dartmouth, Dr. Allen Rowe of M. I. T., and Dr. Edgar Fauver of Wesleyan met in Boston and officially formed the New England Intercollegiate Swimming Association. In 1929, the league allowed their respective swimming coaches to represent their schools at the annual spring meeting.

The league sent invitations to Williams and Yale in 1923 to join the league. Williams joined the league and Yale declined ... the rest is history! The adopted order of swimming events were the 50 yard freestyle, the 220 yard freestyle, fancy diving, the 100 yard freestyle, the 100 yard breaststroke, and the 200 yard freestyle relay. An interesting historical note is that the New England League allowed the inclusion of the breaststroke and backstroke events before the Intercollegiate Swimming Association's (Columbia, CCNY, Penn Princeton and Yale) inclusion of these events.

The New England Association had the plunge through 1925. The secretary of the association resolved a tie in favor of the plunge for the 1925 season. This was done even though most of the swimming world discontinued the plunge in 1923. Hugh McCurdy always regretted the loss of this fine event because it brought into competition a number of men who by and large could not find any other place to compete.

In 1924 the backstroke distance increased to 100 yards while the breaststroke was increased to 200 yards and the 440 yard freestyle was included while the 200 was dropped from the format.  Swimming events often times finished in the middle of the pools because the distances were compared to metric events (400 meters= 440 yards).

Through the years there have been two trends as far as the events were concerned, namely; lengthening the events and adding events to the championship format.

The following dates indicate the inclusion of new events and significant format changes that improved the quality of the New England Championship meet.  It should be noted that the New England league has been a pioneer in the field of new events and the creative assimilation of events and their respective order.

1927: 300 yard medley relay (100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 freestyle). The larger Eastern Colleges Association did not swim this event until 1938! The 300 yard individual medley was included in dual meets.

1928: 200 yard freshman relay included in dual meets.

1933: 200 yard relay increased to 400 yards. In the original order, the plunge provided a rest period before the relay. When this event was dropped a 15 minute rest period was inserted before the relay. In order to eliminate this dead spot in the program it was decided to split the required dives and the optional dives.

The latter were performed just before the relay after the last individual event. This was continued until 1940 when the N. C. A. A. order was adopted which did not have a rest period. The swimmers were becoming stronger and did not require a rest period.

1935: The 1500 meter freestyle was suggested but not accepted. It was proposed in 1940 and defeated once again.

1941: Proposed that the breaststroke revert back to orthodox and add a new event; the dolphin-butterfly but this was not accepted. It was voted that in the diving event contestants were required to perform any eight dives.

1951: Refused to adopt the 150 yard individual medley or to change the 300 individual medley to the 150 yard event.

1952: The 150 yard individual event was placed in the dual meet order of events.

1953: The 150 yard individual medley was changed to the 300 individual medley.

1954: Breaststroke changed to conventional and could either be the dolphin-butterfly or breaststroke leg of the medley relay.

1956: The medley relay increased to 400 yards. The 100 yard butterfly accepted for all events and replaced the 150 yard individual medley.

1958: NCAA diving rules were accepted.

1959: All diving events performed on the one meter board only.

1960: The 200 yard individual medley event is added to the championships and dual meet order of events.

1961: The 200 yard individual medley event was added to the freshman order of events.

1962: The 1500 meter freestyle was accepted and became the 1650 yard freestyle the following spring.

The 100 yard butterfly was changed to the 200 yard butterfly. The 200 yard freestyle replaced the 220 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle replaced the 440 yard freestyle. The 400 yard freestyle was added to freshman dual meets.

1962: 3 Meter diving was added to dual meets by mutual agreement between coaches.

1965: The Championship meet program added 5 events to the order: the 400 yard individual medley, the 100 yard butterfly, the 100 yard backstroke, the 100 yard breaststroke and the 3 meter diving event.

1966 Varsity order and distances were accepted for freshman meets. The 1000 yard freestyle was voted down.

1970: First use of electronic timing for swimming championships. 

1971: 800 yard freestyle relay was added to the championship format. 

1972: Championship format changed to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

1987: Scored three separate Championships for Division I, Division II, and Division Ill.

1988: Scored a separate Division I and Division II Championship meet along with a separate Division III Championship meet.

Added the 200 yard freestyle and the 200 yard medley relay events to the championship format.

1991: Added the 50 yard backstroke, the 50 yard butterfly, the 50 yard breaststroke, and the 100 IM events.

1996: Dropped the Division I schools from the format and kept the Division II and III meets.

2000: The men and women of the New England Swimming Association have shown foresight and imagination in the development of their swimming and diving programs. The following individuals are a select few who have left a lasting image of love and professionalism that impacted thousands of athletes and coaches throughout the world of swimming and diving. Their legacy is a constant reminder that competitive swimming and diving both serve as a means to a far greater reward of lifelong friendships:

Charles E. Silvia (Springfield), Thomas K. Cureton (Springfield), Joe Rogers (UMass), 

Hugh Mccurdy (Wesleyan), Bob Muir (Williams), and Kay Frommer (Southern)


In 1966, women's swimming teams from New England and New York joined together for an end-of-the-year meet. The meet was a one-day event and was run as a timed final. The women from Springfield College were the victors, and they continued to dominate the meet for years to come.

In 1972, the first meet to be named The New England Women’s Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championship was held at Middlebury College in Vermont and was won by Springfield College. The 50’s and 100's of the strokes were swum, with the longest event being the 400 yard freestyle.  Association President Jeff Wren, from the University of Maine at Orono, played host to the meet the following year as teams began to participate and Association membership was required. The first trials and finals meet began in 1978 at the University of Maine at Orono. Maine was the meet champion that year and in 1979 and 1980.

In 1980, as scholarships began to make a difference in women’s swimming, the Championship was divided into an A and B league, with schools from Divisions I and II in the NCAA participating in the A league, and Division III schools competing in the B league. The sport continued to grow; NCAA basketball conferences started to become swimming conferences, and teams would opt to swim in a conference meet rather than the New England's.  Division I schools often had to make a choice between meets from year to year, until eventually the schools competed only in their own conference. The Division I meet became a mid-semester meet timed final event in 1995. In 1996, the final Division I meet was held at the University of Connecticut with the host school taking the title.

The Division II-III meet continued to grow, as more schools began offering women's programs.  At the 1999 meet, there were 40 schools entered. Williams College won the title almost every year from 1980 until 1999, except for a four-year period when Tufts University won in 1986, 1987 and 1989, and Bowdoin College in 1988 walked away with the crown. 

Our Association is unique for its size and for the variety of member schools. The meet boasts National qualifiers in many events, and has had many eventual National Champions. As we now say farewell to schools from the NESCAC and NEWMAC conferences (2000), we thank these members for their work and efforts in the success of The New England Women's Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association.


In 2001, the previous separate Women’s New England Championships and Men’s New England Championships combined forming a single meet for Division II and III schools first held at Bentley. Currently, NEISDA is comprised of 21 Division III member institutions in 6 Conferences in New England.  During the 2019-20 season, NEISDA is celebrating it's 100 year!!