How the girls swim team has overcome COVID restrictions to swim faster than ever

By Chadwick Cole

Photo by Chadwick Cole

Junior Karen Austin swimming butterfly in the 200 IM at the OAA county meet on October 10.

In a time with a lot of confusion, at least one thing was certain, there shouldn’t be large gatherings of people indoors during covid. This posed a problem for Groves Girls Head Varsity Swim coach Danny Torriglia and the girls swim team.

“I didn’t think we were going to have a season until our first day of practice. Every day they were changing restrictions and making new decisions, so we really didn’t know what to expect until we were on the pool deck. Being indoors definitely made it harder for us to play,” Torriglia said.

Summer swim teams competed outside. Due to cold temperatures in late fall outdoor competitions are not possible for the high school season.

“Preseason training was tough because restrictions were always changing, but I ran a summer team this year during Covid so I already knew how to adjust. It was definitely a little more stressful, but we were able to get done what we needed to do. There was definitely some rust that we had to shake off before the season,” Torriglia said.

The first meet was hosted by Groves on September 12 versus Mercy. Groves ended up losing the meet.

“The first meet was kind of a whirlwind from my perspective, being my first meet with a new team. But I was excited and a little nervous for the girls because for some of them it had been almost a year since their last meet,” Torriglia said. “All of the girls were super pumped up, even the freshmen who had never been in a high school meet before looked super excited to be out there. It was a little stressful hosting and running a meet for the first time, but it was amazing to be competing again.”

Covid restrictions have posed new challenges for swimmers this season. During a normal year, at a meet, one team would be assigned the even lanes and the other team the odd lanes. This year one team has lanes one through four and the other has lanes five through eight.

“You swim for a time but you also swim against the other team, sometimes seeing that opponent next to you can push you over the edge in the final stretch. Not having fans has been weird as well. It feels like there is some energy missing, but we have still seen girls post great times and some of them are swimming the best they ever have,” Torriglia said.

Photo by Chadwick Cole

Junior Karen Austin takes a breath while swimming butterfly in the 200 IM at the OAA county meet on October 10.

Even though it has been a weird season, the emerald tide has overcome uncertainty and adversity to swim some of their personal best times.

“Being a new coach you don’t really know what to expect, especially during covid, but I think for the most part everyone has handled it well,” Torriglia said. “We’ve worked hard and we’re swimming fast so hopefully it all comes to fruition.”

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