Amidst the Global Pandemic, athletes all over the country are eager to get back to the sport they love. From swimming to football, all sports face the same risk: contracting the highly contagious illness, Covid-19. Swimmers specifically, are claimed to be at lower risk, but they are in chlorinated water that has yet to be tested for the spread of the virus.
A New Chapter
In early july, we all received an email. It was the start of the new season, a new coach, and a new chapter for our team. Our new coach, Quinn Johnson, sent, “We will begin our season on Monday June 15th at 9am in the East Gym at Tinley Park High School for conditioning practices. As of yesterday the IHSA has given us permission to begin summer conditioning practices,”(June 12, 2020). As a swimmer of 11 years, I was ecstatic that we had a chance to swim during the pandemic, but concerns rose from my parents and returning swimmers. How would this work? Are we really social distancing? Would we ever swim again? I spoke with my mom and we agreed that I would try my best to make the best out of this situation.
Diving into Conditioning
In order to participate in conditioning, we had to have running shoes, a participation waiver, a water bottle, appropriate workout clothes, and most importantly, a mask. On day 1, conditioning was far from what was expected. When we first walked into the field house, Mr. Mongan, our athletic director, and Samantha, our athletic trainer waited for us behind the doors to collect our COVID-19 participation waiver and take our temperature. The first week was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. My teammates and I found that the mask was immediately getting in the way, but we pushed through.
After about 3 weeks of conditioning, we finally were eligible and I felt more and more restricted. I chose not to get in the water due to my concern of contracting Covid-19 in untested waters. I wanted to work my hardest and keep up with the workouts that became more challenging by the day. The mask was completely making it harder to breathe. Don’t get me wrong, I love masks and it is great to prevent the corona virus and I wanted to protect my teammates, now friends. Masks are just not the best idea when doing power strength workouts for long periods of time for high school athletes. Peyton Fox, one of our fellow seniors was also unsure about entering the water, so we did land workouts together. Everyday we encouraged each other, but we both decided at some point we could not continue. One month after conditioning in hopes that coronavirus would ease up, we chose to end our season early.
Was this the right step to take? Did we move too fast? Should swimmers have entered the pool water together after merely 6 months? As one of many swimmers that were eager to get into the water, this still seemed risky and still really early in this phase. Senior Christina Antonopolus, said, “I thought it was handled pretty well and ran smoothly for the conditions we had to comply to.” She was one of the swimmers that decided to get in the water, though she had several concerns as well.
So, was this handled correctly? Absolutely. We are in a deadly pandemic that is running rapid throughout the world. The health codes and rules were followed, social distancing was in full effect, and temperatures were taken every single day. I really hoped that coronavirus would be more under control so that I would be comfortable enough to get in, but those 4-5 weeks that I stayed with my team was memorable.