Finishing the regular season with an overall 7-4 record, the McLean varsity swim team has been locked in this year. However, just like all other winter sports, the swim season has been greatly impacted by the pandemic.
Going into the 2020-21 school year, many student athletes were uncertain whether they could have a sports season, since winter sports were unable to hold pre-season workouts or games. Luckily, during late July, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) announced that there would be a condensed Athletic Schedule.
“We had tryouts over the course of a week in mid-December, which was around a month later than when we usually have them,” said Ryan Sribar, a junior on the varsity swim team. “There were a lot of regulations,[such as] a limited number of people in each lane or at each tryout, masks on whenever you’re not in the water, and so on.”
The precautions at tryouts had to be taken throughout the entire swim season at every practice. There is also a new regulation allowing swimmers to not attend any of the practices if they are a part of a team outside of school.
“You only are required to attend a practice if you do not swim in clubs [outside of school] at least twice a week, said Lily Flint, a junior on the varsity swim team. “For a majority of the team, we were practicing with our club team 5-7 times a week, so the number of kids in school practices were quite low.”
With the condensed season only being a month and a half long, there have also been added regulations that have also greatly affected swim meets. Meets are now split by gender causing there to be twice as many sessions than usual.
Moreover, the meets became shorter, giving less time for the athletes to recover in between events.
“We also didn’t have any team activities this year, like the pasta dinner and Silver Diner after meets,” Sribar said. “We weren’t even allowed to cheer during the meet, so a lot of the camaraderie and fun got taken away.”
Taking away team cheering has probably had the biggest impact on these athletes’ performance.
“I know I always do my best with packed stands and when all my coaches and teammates are right by the edge cheering me on,” Flint said. “Not having spectators and less than half the team there each night was definitely discouraging, and I think it affected everyone’s overall performance.”
Despite all these challenging circumstances, both boys and girls teams worked hard and had a satisfying season. The boys have gone 5-1 with their only loss against Langley, while the girls won two out of their five games.
“We definitely lost a number of really fast seniors, so this year we’ve taken the hit,” Flint said.Now that all regular season meets are finished, both teams are entering into regionals, hoping to make huge achievements.
“The season despite its many upsets due to COVID, has been surprisingly successful,” said Phillip Olender, a senior on the varsity swim team. “I could not be any more prouder of this team and can’t wait to see all of these awesome swimmers shine for years to come. Go Highlanders!”
Good luck to our Swim & Dive team as they compete in Regionals today and tomorrow!!! pic.twitter.com/UcP7k1uTBn
— McLeanathletics (@McLeanathletics) February 5, 2021