Girls Swim Adapting to Fall II

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The Girls Swim team poses for a picture.

By Madelyn Talyor (III), Contributing Writer

After a long delay from the normal fall season, the Boston Latin School girls’ swim team dove right back into business as practice began on March 8. Although things differ from what the team has experienced in previous years, the athletes are adjusting well.

Even before the season began, a challenge presented itself since the previous coach, Rosalie Jones, could not coach this season. This prompted Cathy Burke, BLS swim team alumna and parent of Lily Kelly ‘18 and Mae Kelly ‘20, to step up. Coach Burke was on the girls’ swim team all six years that she attended BLS and swam in college.

In response to why she coached this season, Burke says, “I absolutely loved my time on the team in high school and I would have been devastated if it was taken away from me. Because of COVID[-19], students have lost out on so much this year, especially seniors. My heart went out to them.”

Her sister-in-law, Tamara Burke, who used to swim for Brookline High School, filled in as assistant coach. Captain Victoria Taieb (I) says, “The coaches have done their best to make the season feel like a real one and strengthened us as a team.”

Typically, the swim season runs from the end of August to November. The decision, however, was made in the fall to move the season to “Fall II,” a six-week season in between winter and spring sports. With the length of the season cut short, the girls only had five swim meets.

Besides having a limited time, the competitions differ from how they were before the pandemic. The meets are completely virtual, meaning that each team swims in their home pool, while the coaches record times, which are compared to determine which team wins. No spectators are allowed, but there is a live stream for fans at home to watch.

Captain Erin Harrington (I) says, “[I] like this better because it’s less stressful without the other team, and we can swim at home all the time.”

Besides the change of how meets take place, there have been various adjustments made to what the season looks like. Each day, coaches and athletes must fill out a COVID-19 “self-screener” to report possible symptoms. Masks are required up to the last second before the swimmers hop into the pool and have to be put back on before getting out of the water. Also, the team is divided into practice cohorts because of limits on how many people can be in the facility. This has been difficult because some athletes are not getting as much training as they would like.

As far as the results of the meets, the coaches and athletes are proud of how they have done, especially considering all the unique circumstances that they are in. So far, the girls are 2-2 in the season, with wins against Waltham and Ashland and two tough losses to Acton-Boxborough and Framingham. They will compete in their final meet against Hopkinton on April 14. Coach Burke reports that many swimmers have set new personal best times, which is extremely impressive due to the lack of training facilities that have been available for the past year.

Despite all the challenges they face, the girls’ swim team has had an amazing season due to the positive attitudes of the athletes and the support of coaches, parents and fans.