Bwog explores modern alternatives for Columbia College’s swim test.

Not many people know this, but Columbia College, which was founded in 1899 by Peter La Fonze, world-renowned bodybuilder, used to offer only exercise courses. That is why we call the Core Curriculum the Core Curriculum—it originally taught core strengthening.

Nowadays, we no longer have to take many of the classes students of generations past took. Masterpieces of Western Jazzercise, for instance, has been replaced with Music Hum; Colloquium on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Global Core; and Frontiers of Tennis with the Science Requirement.

One requirement, however, remains from the original Core Curriculum. I speak, of course, about the swim test.

There have been multiple attempts over the past century to replace the swim test:

  • In 1948, Gerald Geraldson, Professor of Apartment Theory, published numerous op-eds in the school paper arguing that chlorine causes mild discomfort, and that the school pool should be filled with cement.
  • Twenty years later, in 1979, Gerald Geraldson Jr., Professor of Time, started a campaign to move the swim test to New Jersey.
  • Finally, in 1956, Gerald Geraldson III, who was eight years old at the time, led a movement to abolish the swim test altogether.

Although these people all failed, they did succeed in convincing the administration to shorten the test from 256 lengths to three. I write today to finish what they started—to argue that students should have alternatives to the swim test requirement.

I love swimming, and I own two fish (red fish, blue fish), so you know I mean business when I talk about rethinking the test.

With that out of the way, here are some potential activities we could do in lieu of swimming:

  1. Running 0.5 miles in Riverside Park

2. Taking a fishing trip

3. Watching Ocean’s Eleven backwards

4. Doing homework on a sailboat

Universities must adapt to a digital age.

Pool via Wikimedia Commons

The Thinker via Wikimedia Commons

Just Some Random Swimmer via Flickr

Protest via Wikimedia Commons

Runner via Pixabay

Fishing via Wikimedia Commons

An Ocean’s Eleven via Wikimedia Commons

Sailboat via Wikimedia Commons