How COVID-19 Changed Everything: A Coach’s Perspective

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How COVID-19 Changed Everything: A Coach’s Perspective

By Eleanor Martin, Swimming World Intern

When COVID-19 shut down everything in mid-March, swimmers all over the globe were heartbroken. No more meets that athletes had been focusing on for the past six months, no more practices to leave it all in the pool, no more having an emotional or physical outlet, no more doing what we love. But while we all mourned for the loss of the swimmers, a lot of us neglected what the coaches were also going through. These coaches also lost their passion, and some their jobs. While swimmers were suffering because of their lost time and triumphs, so were the coaches. 

A Coach’s View on how COVID-19 Changed Everything

For Prince William Swim Club Head Coach, Lorena Caballero, the hit of the pandemic caused her to go into a state of constant stress and worry. “It has made my life a lot more stressful. I am constantly worrying if the team will make it through this crisis.” Caballero is the head coach of a small team in Virginia, so not only was she devastated about not being able to be at the pool, she was worried about the survival of her team. Due to COVID-19, a lot of swim teams, especially local ones, were faced with struggles in an already financially stressful time. With less swimmers, less income, and less pool space, the Coronavirus made it very difficult for many teams to get back up on their feet and provide a safe way for athletes to train. 

The Team Impact

Caballero talked about how the Coronavirus wasn’t just adding stress to her personally, but also to the team itself. There was  the struggle of finding pool space, especially in the first few months when everything was closed. Teams everywhere were scrambling to find pool space, which added a lot of stress to the coaching staff. Coaches were then also putting in a considerable amount of time trying to accommodate each and every swimmer, making sure that swimmers were getting their money’s worth, which was quite different in the present climate.

Staying Safe

Third, there was the scuffle of trying to find ways to safely do practice. Having to spread kids out throughout the lanes to adhere to social distancing was very hard on coaches, as it completely changed the flow of practice and made it difficult for swimmers, especially younger ones, and writing sets also became extremely strenuous because you had to make sure that kids wouldn’t be catching up or falling behind and breaking social distancing rules. “Trying to come up with ways to offset that is really tiring and stressful,” Caballero said. She also talked about how trying to figure out practices, lane spacing, and pool space became a burden, and in a way took some of the passion out of her job, as she was no longer able to focus on training kids to be the best athletes they could possibly be. 

Looking on the Bright Side

Still, Caballero and coaches all over the country tried their very best to stay positive during this pandemic, not only for their swimmers, but for themselves. Caballero talked about how when trying to look on the bright side of things, two things came to mind. First, there was focus on the recovery period that swimmers were able to get. With this sport, most swimmers rarely get any time off, maybe three weeks maximum between seasons. So with this time off, athletes were able to fully rest and recover, and maybe fully nurse an injury.

The second, and possibly most important thing to come out of this stressful time, was swimmers realizing how much they truly loved and missed the sport. Not being able to practice, to compete, to feel themselves breaking through the water, something all swimmers really took for granted, only made them more hungry and excited to come back and fully dedicate themselves to this sport. 

Finally, if there is one thing Caballero would want all swimmers to focus on, it would be this: “That this is just a bump in the road. A big bump but just that. They have their whole lives ahead of them and this experience, as unpleasant as it might seem, will make them stronger and appreciate what they have even more.”

Athletes and coaches alike have been through a lot these past few months, but as we all continue to grind and push through the setbacks, we will come out stronger. 

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Sandy Martin

    So beautifully written and the thoughtfulness of sharing the view from the coaches perspective is awesome!!

  2. avatar
    Sarah Newland

    Great article Ellie! Congrats on the internship!

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