Ben Parker / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Cornell will not be conducting any swim tests during the fall semester, and the requirement is waived for students graduating in fall 2020 and spring 2021.

July 21, 2020

Cornell Cancels Swim Test for Fall 2020

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A graduation requirement many students dread, the swim test will not take place this fall.

Cornell will not conduct any swim tests during the upcoming semester, and it will waive the requirement for students graduating either in fall 2020 or spring 2021, according to the University’s physical education requirements webpage.

First-year students unable to take the swim test this fall will also have the $100 late fee waived when they take it during their subsequent years at Cornell.

This is the second time in the past year that the University is canceling the swim test — the early onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic first prompted Cornell to stop conducting tests in March. At the time, Cornell waived the requirement along with other physical education requirements for students slated to graduate in spring 2020.

Every year, Cornell requires first-years to take the swim test during orientation week, with the rationale that the test will help “teach people how to swim and make it a life skill.”

The University has been running swim tests for nearly 115 years. Colonel Frank Barton — the namesake of Barton Hall — first instituted the test in 1905 for male students, noting that “recent wars have conclusively demonstrated that a soldier who cannot swim is so much dead timber in the command.” In 1920, Cornell instituted the swim test for women.