Sports during a pandemic: club swimming

Sports+during+a+pandemic%3A+club+swimming
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Over the past few months, many professional and collegiate sports began with a strict emphasis on following COVID-19 guidelines. However, the return of PSAL sports still remains a mystery. Despite this uncertainty, some Townsend Harris athletes continue to get involved with their respective sports, especially THHS club swimmers. 

A club swim team, registered with USA Swimming, requires a great deal of commitment. At the higher level, swimmers typically practice 6 or more times a week year-round. Many NYC club teams have been holding practices for a few months now, including junior Raquel Mulakandov’s team, Queens Aquatic Club. “We are currently swimming in Roslyn, Long Island since our pool at Queens College is still closed. I practice on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays either early in the mornings before school or late at night,” said Raquel. For senior Edwin Zheng who swims for the Flushing Flyers, a YMCA team, practices only started recently and are still very limited. “[We] train three days a week instead of the usual six days pre-Covid,” Edwin said. 

Raquel also said that a few of the safety precautions her team has taken include “wearing masks before and after we get into the pool, having ten minutes in between practice times so we aren’t in contact with other groups… and temperature checks every day.” These safety precautions emphasizing on mask-wearing and decreasing the number of people per practice apply to many teams. For Edwin’s team, groups are split up by days and times so that there are only “around twelve people at practice, which only puts two people in each lane.” In light of the implemented precautions, swim meets have been allowed to resume, providing the swimmers with a sense of normalcy.  Raquel said that because of the precautions taken at meets, she “felt really safe there.” At meets, “there is only one heat behind the blocks, and the next heat up against the wall, which helps keep everyone socially distanced.” 

Although these teams have been able to meet regularly, Raquel said that “practicing with such short practice times and fewer times a week have hindered [her] ability to improve.” “Without constant repetition and consistency, it [was] difficult to work on technique and endurance,” said Edwin. However, as practices have resumed after more than five months, Edwin and his teammates have begun to improve. Edwin said, “they aren’t what they used to be, [but these practices] are an opportunity to get back to the sport and back in shape.” 

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