COVID-19 limits swim team spectators, changes districts


Kelly Focht

In February of 2020, the swim team traveled to State College to compete in the District Six Swimming and Diving Championships. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team will not be able to take as many members.

The boys’ and girls’ swim team had their final swim meet against Somerset on Feb. 24. Due to Covid-19, no spectators have been allowed inside the facility due to the 10% capacity restrictions throughout the entire season. The team has also taken other precautions throughout the season including splitting the team into two practices and limiting the number of swimmers on deck during competitions.

“Having two practices distances our swimmers away from each other and gives parents more flexibility on when they can pick up or drop off their children. It also allows the kids to be able to go to club meetings and come to the later practice or go to work in the evening and come to the earlier practice,” Coach Nanette Cummings said. 

Ethan Pacifico, a senior captain of the swim team, has been on the team since he was a freshman.

 “Honestly, audience or no audience, we give it our all, in my opinion it doesn’t make too much of a difference. We still cheer each other on at the end of the pool and we know our parents are watching the livestream, so we still feel the support,” Pacifico said.

 Another member of the team, senior Noah Mayer also doesn’t mind the spectator limit. 

“It alleviates some of the pressure of people watching. Most of the time, we’re holding our breath and don’t really hear our parents. Practices also haven’t changed that much, because we don’t stop for longer than a minute and we still get time to talk to each other in between sets,” Mayer said. 

Other members of the team do miss having spectators. 

“I miss having the support that they gave us. When the parents and fans would cheer for us, it made me feel more excited or ready to swim,” sophomore Kylie Focht said. 

COVID-19 has also changed the way that Districts for the swim team will work. In previous years, the team was able to take anyone who qualified in an event. If no one qualified in an event, the team was able to take two people who didn’t qualify. Districts lasted two days and was held at the Penn State Coy Natatorium. Last year, the team took around 20 swimmers to Districts. 

This year, the requirements to go to districts are much more strict. The times for every event have been lowered to make it more difficult to qualify and swimmers must hit the qualifying time to be considered to go. Last year, the team took around 20 swimmers to Districts, but this year, less than ten members of the team hit the qualifying times. Even then, it is not a guarantee that the swimmer will go because only the top twelve people in each event will be competing.

“I was so close to qualifying on my 200 [freestyle], but I missed the time by almost two seconds. If the times hadn’t been changed I definitely would’ve qualified. However, I did qualify in my 500 [freestyle], but my seed time isn’t that great, so I’m nervous that I won’t get to swim even though I hit the time,” sophomore Gwyneth Fox said. 

 This year, Districts will be held at State College High School and only last a couple of hours. 

“I love going to districts so much. It’s really fun to just hang out with my team for two days. I’m really sad that I won’t get to go this year,” senior Makenna Murphy said.