By Maddie Iller

Every local on island knows how well our Swim and Dive team thrives in the water. Our island breeds natural-born swimmers with raw talent and determination resulting in exciting battles with every competitor. Over the past years, the swim and dive teams have turned dull Nantucket winters into an exciting season where our island talent is showcased and dominates while bringing overwhelming Whaler Pride energy to the student body. However, with the pandemic still raging and swimming being a sport where a mask isn’t possible in the water, how has the team coped with the new safety measures taken, and how is competing still possible? 

Swimming has been named one of the safest sports to participate in during the times of Coronavirus. Why? There is no evidence that the virus passes through water, so if the pool is constantly cleaned and chlorinated, the athletes are safe. There have been more changes to ensure the safety of the students other than the constant cleansing of the pool, as well. The team has been split into two groups, with the first group of swimmers and all divers swimming for 45 minutes, and the second group of swimmers swimming for an hour and a half. Masks are required unless you are in the water and social distancing applies at all times, including in swim lanes. Nantucket has also had a decrease in swimmers and divers. With over 60 athletes participating last year, only 35 swimmers and 4 divers are still competing this year. The decline is related to the loss of eleven seniors, and some swimmers and divers opting out for the season.

Amanda Mack, a senior, has entered her second year of the swim team, she compares the differences between last year and this year, saying, “I like the tempo this year. Although I miss traveling for meets, I can focus on my technique and I feel safe during these difficult times.” With only eight virtual meets and no sectionals or state championships this season, it has allowed the swimmers and divers to continue practicing hard and focus on improvements, preparing for next season or college. 

Captain Sophie Gerardi, a senior, feels differently; “the virtual meets have been quite an adjustment because of the new ‘no cheering rule’ and no spectators. It’s very different because we don’t have the same energy on the pool deck to motivate each other as we usually do.” Due to Covid-19, verbally supporting teammates has been banned so everyone can stay safe on the pool deck. Although teammate cheering has been side-lined for now, the team still appears to have the same energy and rigor as the past years, by winning the two virtual meets they have participated in this season so far. The team has had to handle dramatic changes due to Covid-19, but the hopeful energy and the wins prove that even when a global pandemic is thrown at Nantucket student-athletes, they handle it with determination and continue to stay strong. 

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