The Marian Varsity swimming and diving team is going with the flow this season. Along with welcoming a few new members, the team will have to deal with the various challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nebraska is the latest hotspot for cases, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there will be many more restrictions for the 2020-2021 swimming and diving season compared to last year.
Head coach, Mr. BJ Christiansen expressed his confidence at how the season is going so far. “[The girls] are looking formidable. Due to the pandemic many of the girls were able to get some rest to repair their bodies and then hit training hard. Several have not done a meet since State last year,” he said. Despite this seemingly negative situation, Christiansen is ready to see some big improvements and even more broken records this year.
As for practice changes, the team seems to be taking everything in stride. In a typical week, the swimmers practice every day after school from 3:30-5:30, which is only slightly earlier than 4-6 from years past. The most obvious difference is location: for many years prior, the Crusaders’ home pool was the University of Nebraska-Omaha natatorium. However, amidst the pandemic, the university has closed its doors to outside groups. “It is undecided at this time if or when they will allow outside groups to rent the facilities,” Christiansen said, as the Marian swim team’s liaison with the university.
In response, the swimmers have moved to the YMCA at 7502 Maple St. Morning swim practices (on Fridays and Saturdays) are still at the College of Saint Mary at 7000 Mercy Rd. In addition, the divers have made some changes to their practice schedule. “We are practicing at Bellevue West [High School] and only get to practice 2.5 hours a week because of limited boards in Omaha,” sophomore Claire Troshynski said.
One thing these new times and places have taught the swim and dive team is this: efficiency. “We have to really use our time well in practice,” Troshynski pointed out, with the divers’ decreased practice availability. Swim practices also are subject to change. As for COVID-19 measures, both swimmers and divers must wear masks outside of the pool and use social distancing measures when possible. In fact, chlorine (the well-known “pool chemical”) helps “deactivate the virus at levels of 0.4 parts per million for 10 minutes,” Christiansen said, noting that most pools maintain even higher levels for caution.
Meets will look a lot different this season. As opposed to a loud, crowded pool deck, this year fans (and even teammates) are discouraged from close cheering. While the passion for the sport and community will still be present, masks and distancing will be strictly enforced, and family and friends will often be told to tune into live streams rather than attending meets in-person. Gatherings are one of the biggest worries of this pandemic, so any ways to cut them down (especially in high-intensity competition areas like meets and practices) are key to continuing the season. Obviously winning the state championship again is the ultimate goal, but some fear that even making it through the rest of the season is in jeopardy.
The Marian swim and dive team has persevered through what can only be described as a rollercoaster of emotions. With several quarantines already under their belt and one meet currently cancelled due to a spreading scare, everyone is doing their best to stay healthy and safe, and be “grateful for any opportunity that [they] will get,” as emphasized by Christiansen.
“My hope is that we can all come together and support each other in order to make everyone better,” Troshynski said. Bonding is one thing that the team has held onto, no matter what the season brings.
Senior Abbie Kellen is at the head of this mission. “Even though we won’t get to have team sleepovers, I hope we can still get as close as we have years prior,” she said. With a 27-strong team and memories of last year’s title still in their minds, the Marian swim and dive team is back…and hungry for more.