When it was finally announced that there would be a season for traditional fall sports, it was surprising to many — especially since it would take place months after it was supposed to.
But among the girls swim team members at Eisenhower High School, there were still some concerns about the upcoming season. Girls swimming and diving take place in an indoor pool downtown, so would there be more restrictions because of the enclosed space? Would parents and others be able to watch the girls compete? Would there be districts or state?
The season for traditional fall sports would be just six weeks long. And because swimming had to be held indoors, there would be restrictions on the maximum number of people allowed to enter Lions Pool and be in the water at the same time. Spectators would not be allowed at swim meets.
Lindsay Martin, a freshman at Eisenhower High School who came into the program without any previous competitive swimming experience, was grateful for the six weeks the school district gave the swimmers.
“The shorter season allowed me to test if I would actually enjoy the sport or if I’d be good at it in the long run,” she said. “But I’m disappointed it ended right when I was reaching my best times.”
Junior standout Addie Mitchell reached state during the 2019-20 season, competing in the 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, and 400 freestyle relay.
“The biggest challenge of only having a season being six weeks was the mental aspect of knowing there was a chance the meets could be canceled or that the season would come to a halt,” she said. “And we were training for an end-of- the-season meet, not knowing when it would be.”
But the abbreviated season also was a motivator.
“One thing I appreciated about the shorter season was the bigger demand for harder and more intense workouts so I would be able to reach my peak by the end of the six weeks,” Mitchell said.
Although the shorter swim season was viewed mostly as a disappointment by returning athletes, sophomore Sarah Shannon saw good points, too.
“I liked the shorter season because we all got to focus more on our technique and improve all of our strokes and got to experiment on which events we competed in, which we wouldn’t usually do in a normal season,” she said. “But it was still very difficult to improve our times in the little amount of time and training we had, and I wish we were given a state meet this year.”
A number of previous state-qualifying swimmers did not return this year because of the shortened season. In fact, the majority of the girls who turned out for the swim season were new to Eisenhower’s swimming and diving program.
While it may have been disappointing that so many talented swimmers did not compete this season, new swimmers now have six weeks of experience for next year.