In preparation for its meet against Ethel Walker last Friday, Girls Swimming and Diving powered through some unfamiliar challenges.
One of the obstacles that the team faced was the winter break, which disrupted the team’s rhythm and dynamic. Due to new co-curricular accommodations, the girls had the opportunity to train in the fall before their official season started in November, building their fitness and speed. However, upon leaving campus, many athletes did not have access to a pool, and struggled to build back their old potential. After winter break, the team returned to practicing five days a week, but the quarantine period meant that the swimmers only had two weeks to prepare for competition. Head Coach Michelle Repass said, “I think some of the swimmers were as strong as they’ve ever been because there was that continuity through summer all the way up until Thanksgiving. It was a much longer break…so it definitely throws some things off-kilter.”
In previous years, the swim team also had many bonding opportunities, such as bus rides, team dinners, and meets. However, COVID restrictions have limited the team to virtual meets, and swimmers instead use team dinners to connect with their teammates. Co-captain Abigail Powell ’21, said, “In the locker room we blast music and have distance and masked dance parties while we’re getting ready. So I think that trying to incorporate them into normal team traditions is the best thing we can do.”
To cap off a season filled with changes and uncertainty, the team participated in two virtual meets on March 13th and 20th against Kent and Ethel Walker, respectively. The meets were conducted in much the same way as a regular year, with boys’ and girls’ events alternating throughout the day. After each race, the swimmers’ times were posted on a website shared with the competing school. Despite the lanes only being half full for each race, the girls competed with the same energy they would bring to an in-person meet. The last-minute addition of spectators, who were permitted to watch the meet from the bleachers, gave Hixon Pool an atmosphere of near-normality.
While Kent and Ethel Walker did not send their results, the event gave swimmers a long-awaited taste of competition. Some swimmers, despite the circumstances, were able to achieve personal best times in their events. Coach Repass said, “I think they’ve been great about staying motivated despite those strange circumstances too. They’ve worked hard in the time and space that we’ve had and I think they’ve worked hard for these meets.”
The Girls Swimming and Diving team