The Vashon Seals Swim Team dives back in
By Emma Deines, Content Editor
The Vashon Seals Swim Team is returning to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. After closing briefly in the summer of 2020, practices restarted for more advanced swimmers the following September. Now, over a year later, restrictions are slowly being lifted and the team is looking forward to returning to a regular practice schedule.
The swim team was founded in 1983, and Randy Turner has been the coach since 2007. He feels that the pandemic has been hard to manage, but is proud that the team worked hard to keep practicing.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle … Our team was much smaller [during the pandemic], but we provided a very safe environment for everybody. [Now] it’s just fewer people, and a little more space between them,” Turner said.
Since swimming is a no contact sport, it was one of the first activites allowed after the initial shutdown, and the Seals Swim Team dove at the opportunity to be back in the pool.
“The swim team was the most important thing in their lives for a lot of [the swimmers], especially when they didn’t have any school,” Turner said. “The one thing that was normal was that they could come to practice and see their friends and swim for a couple hours.”
Senior Julia Harrington has been on the swim team for eight years. She was grateful for the stability the swim team gave her during the pandemic, even though it was different than it had been before.
“Swimming was probably the one thing in my life that stayed the same throughout COVID, and it gave me structure,” Harrington said.
The team has followed COVID precautions such as masks, small group gatherings, and social distancing to make sure the swimmers could stay safe but still practice as much as possible.
“Swimming was shut down for a little while, and then when it started back up there were limited amounts of people, so there were two sessions of the same age groups, and practices were shorter,” freshman Molly Wing said.
Wing has been on the swim team since the fourth grade, and enjoys being on the team.
“I really like swimming, so that’s nice,” Wing said. “I think the team makes swimming fun because everyone is nice and supportive of each other.”
Harrington is looking forward to the team returning to normal after a year of small groups and competition restrictions.
“It feels like we’re going pretty much back to normal since everyone is vaccinated. We can be on the same side of [the pool] and have practices that have more of a group dynamic. We get to do coaching now. We went to one meet … and since restrictions are opening up we’ll be able to finally compete again.”
Before the beginning of this season, the last time Harrington had competed in a meet was when she was a sophomore, so she is excited about competing again this year.
“At my last meet I broke 30 seconds in the fifty meter freestyle for the first time, which was awesome. I think my main goal next time I compete [is to] break my 100 breaststroke time because that’s one of my favorite races”
Because most of the nearby pools belong to schools that don’t want to risk COVID exposure, the swim team has had trouble finding open pools for competitions, but all of the swimmers are excited to have the opportunity to compete again.
“I think everybody is just really happy to be here and looking forward to any meet that we could have anytime soon. Any chance to get in the pool and swim fast. I think everybody’s looking forward to it,” Turner said.