Courtesy of Emily Fekete
February 22, 2020, was a date to remember, as the East Girls swim team won the State Championship for the first time in over 20 years. Shortly thereafter the entire world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included swimming as well. Not being able to be in the pool and training on a daily basis with friends who are like family is something that as a swimmer, I was not prepared for as this has been my life and routine for years. Being out of the pool for a week impacts any swimmer’s physical and mental health. The months that I was not allowed to train were sad, scary, and lonely. While I have missed being in school, the time out of the pool and away from my team seemed like a punishment. Even when we were allowed to train with our club teams, recently that too was again impacted by the sudden rise in Covid cases. After working so hard to get back to where I was before the Pandemic hit and achieving the cuts I needed to swim at Junior Winter Nationals and Futures, that was yet again taken away by Covid and the travel bans.
By this point in the school year, we should have already had tryouts, practices, and meets, with the goal of defending our State Championship title. As I write this, it is still uncertain what this season will hold, if anything. More significant is the realization that I may never get to swim with some of my senior teammates again and that COVID may steal their final high school season. COVID has forced us to miss so much, as there have been no team lunches, secret psychers chosen, and no pasta parties. These events are almost as important as what we do in the pool and they are what we all look forward to coming into the swim season.
The one good thing that came out of this is a new level of appreciation for my team, coaches, and my sport as a whole. Coach Ricci has done her absolute best to keep us all connected during these unprecedented times and has been there living the frustration with us. The shared commitment of the girls on the team and our desire to get back into the pool together and bring East another State Championship has never wavered despite the pandemic. I can’t wait to be back in the pool and on deck with my teammates. Wear your mask and wash your hands!