By Gabby Robinson
“Due to COVID, girls swimming is probably one of the most affected sports this year,” Assistant Athletic Director Michael Tasker explained. In this unpredictable time, many athletes have been impacted, especially the East girls swim team. From changing pool locations to having virtual swim meets, the season has taken many turns. Still, many of the swimmers are still happy about the fact that their season is still taking place.
Even though the swim season is cut short and the swimmers are not able to compete at their home pool (Carla Maddison Rec Center), all of the athletes and coaches are excited that there was even a season at all. East coaches David Quintana and Cate Roberts both agreed the season is worth it because it’s a good outlet for the swimmers, giving them a chance to get out of the house.
While Quintana said, “Swimming is good for the girls’ mental health,” he also explained how it has taken “ten times more planning this season than in previous years.” Unfortunately, this season is still very different from years past. For example, the girls swim team historically has not cut athletes, but this year due to COVID, only 35 girls could be on the team. While the varsity swimmers from last year were promised a spot on the team, only 15 girls could make it this year. Swimmers who were already on varsity and who made the team, such as junior Bailey Nicholas and freshman Josie Fields, were disappointed that not every girl who tried out would make the team. Before COVID every girl who tried out had a chance to be on either varsity or JV. Other girls like Kerith Reilly (sophomore) talked about how “Virtual swim meets are the most disappointing because there isn’t the same energy. Since the team is smaller, the team spirit isn’t the same.“
Luckly, seniors like Natalie Falta and Jane Parney were grateful that they would get to swim during their last year at East. Falta explained how she’s “most excited to be team captain this season” as she worked very hard to earn her position. Parney echoed this sentiment, explaining how she’s most excited for having a season because she wants to swim in college and needs the credits from this year to be able to do that. The freshmen who made varsity this year are also grateful for this season as Lila Brimah stated, “I’m excited to meet the team and as a new student at East I can meet new girls through exercising.” Others like sophomore Elsa Manly agreed, explaining that, “Having the swim season is a good opportunity to socialize when we haven’t gotten to do that for a while. “
Having a swim season this year was worth it for almost everyone, but not being able to swim as frequently has personally affected many. Less pool time makes getting in shape harder, meaning making faster swim times is more challenging. Plus, because of the pandemic this season, the state swim meet is only taking the top 20 swimmers in the league, making it more competitive despite not having enough practice time and having a shorter season.
Though this season is very different from others, there are a lot of benefits. While girls had to be cut this year, the support and feeling of a community within the team is still very much alive. Team spirit and cheering is still going strong during swim meets, making the season a little more normal in this unnormal time. As coach Roberts said, “Getting to swim gives everyone a sense of a more normal life through exercising.”
Throughout this pandemic many things have changed and one of the biggest was high school sports. Luckily, the East athletic department has planned for a season like this, giving students the opportunity to go out and participate in their favorite sports. Thanks to East coaches David Quintana, Cate Roberts and D-Rae Craft, the girls swim team got to have a season this year. And while it has differed from previous years, having a season made an enormous difference and all of the girls on the team are very grateful.