Acalanes High swim team in Lafayette misses deadline to compete

LAFAYETTE, Calif. - Members of the Acalanes High School swim team are heartbroken after missing a deadline to compete in a key regional meet.

"When they’re punishing us athletes who should be the ones competing in this meet, and this meet’s all for us, it’s pretty devastating," said Cale Hanson, a senior on the team who is among 13 students who qualified for the competition after an intense season getting ready for it.

"I definitely thought it would be a big meet where we could all show up and show out and showcase our abilities and everything we’ve worked hard for," Hanson said on Wednesday.

Eight of the swimmers who qualified are seniors who are missing out on what would have been their last chance to swim for the Acalanes Dons.

Head coach Brett Usinger, a former Acalanes swimmer himself, told KTVU: "I do take proper ownership here."

Usinger said he tried to submit his team's times before the deadline Sunday. But he was in Oregon at the time, with a bad Internet connection and no "hot spot."

The next day, he was told his team’s entries never made it – and that his team couldn’t take part in the North Coast Sectional meet on Friday.

"But I also think there’s something to be learned about potential future practices or improvements to make sure students who have earned the right to swim, get to swim," he said.

The team and the principal asked the CIF, the state’s governing body of high school athletics, for a second chance. But it's a no-go. The Dons are dead in the water.

"Our athletes, they performed this year, did everything they were supposed to do and ultimately they’re the ones who are getting punished through this whole process," Usinger said. "Regardless of fault, it shouldn't fall on their shoulders."

Swimmer Sophie Hendrickson said, "I think all of us are just really disappointed that we don’t have the opportunity to swim at this meet because we worked so hard to get to this spot."

Another swimmer Olivia Hoppe agreed, saying, "It’s really devastating knowing that whatever the error was that we aren’t going to be able to swim even though all 13 swimmers are very qualified."

CIF says reminders were sent to all schools that the deadline was mandatory and that no exceptions would be made.

In a statement, Pat Cruickshank, the commissioner of athletics for North Coast Section of CIF said in part, "The procedures and consequences for failing to follow these championship procedures were agreed to by NCS member schools. Acalanes did timely submit entries for its diving team."

Henry Lee is a KTVU reporter. E-mail Henry at and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and