When the calendar makes the turn to September, scholastic swimmers and divers are normally well on their way to revving up for the fall season. However, this year has been anything but ordinary for athletes and coaches.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams have had to adjust to schedule changes and new guidelines.
In the current fall plan updated by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference on Aug. 27, swim and dive teams were able to start practicing last Saturday in cohorts of 10. If the health metrics stay positive through Sept. 20, the CIAC feels it will have enough data from students being in school to decide if it’s safe to proceed with full-team practices.
Back on July 6, the CIAC allowed swimmers and divers to condition in cohorts, but after the Connecticut Department of Public Health took issue with some facets of the CIAC fall sports plan, that conditioning was put on hold from Aug. 14-24.
While collaborating with DPH to resolve those differences, the CIAC has received the state’s blessing to restart non-contact workouts.
Swimming and diving is classified as a low-risk sport for spreading COVID-19, but that designation doesn’t come without safety protocols for participants.
While many squads are awaiting regional-based schedules, Southington has opted to pursue virtual meets in which swimmers compete against teammates in their respective pools and compare times with opponents. The Blue Knights compete at the Southington YMCA, which is allowing up to 25 people on their pool deck at a time.
Cheshire Athletic Director Steve Trifone says that the Rams aren’t currently looking at holding virtual meets, but will consider the idea if other schools are unable to get pool time.
“The biggest challenge for us is the lack of locker room space,” stated Trifone. “The girls won’t use it for storage. They will come dressed and then go back home.”
Trifone feels fortunate to have the Cheshire Community Pool, an Olympic-sized facility, right across the street from CHS.
“We have a large pool that can accommodate a lot of people,” said Trifone. “There is room for the girls and coaches to social distance.”
Coached by Dave Modzelewski, the Rams are coming off a stellar 2019 in which they logged their sixth straight unbeaten season and eighth consecutive Southern Connecticut Conference championship. Cheshire also won the Class LL crown for the first time in a decade and then captured its first State Open title since 2004.
“The program has had a lot of success,” said Trifone. “Dave does a great job with the team. The girls carry on the tradition and work hard in the pool.”
This year, the CIAC is letting swim and dive teams schedule up to 12 regular-season meets and then see if they can have a tournament experience in November.