Is The Fun Back? Summer Swim Teams Working Toward 2021 Season


Is The Fun Back? Summer Swim Teams Working Toward 2021 Season

Baking underneath the hazy July sun lies the heart of distant summer memories for swimmers of all ages. As the smells of spraying sunscreen and fresh chlorine rising off the pool’s surface intermingle, a happiness like no other saturates the atmosphere. High-pitched squeals of children rushing from lane to lane cheering on their teammates compete with the volume of the starter’s booming air horn.

Simultaneously, coaches frantically rush around the pool deck marshalling their swimmers, while encountering numerous interruptions to help kids put on their caps and give out congratulatory high-fives after races. It is this very hodgepodge of chaos and excitement that makes up summer swim leagues and creates an extraordinary environment that sparks the start of many lifelong swimming careers. 

However, the yearlong anticipation for the next summer swim season met an immediate obstruction as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe. The year of 2020 left swimmers unable to take part in the staple summer tradition of competing for their local pool’s swim team. No meets, no practices and no pasta parties took place. Not even a single team cheer echoed throughout the neighborhood last summer. But this year, as COVID-19 safety regulations are starting to be lifted, there is a bright future ahead for summer swim leagues. 

After undergoing a yearlong delay in competition, summer swim leagues across the country are putting in maximum effort to get swimmers back in the pool this coming season.

“I am very hopeful,” expressed Nick Trentacoste, parent representative of the Monmouth Heights Stingrays team in the Monmouth County Swimming Conference (MCSC). “I am trying to think of everything I can to ensure that this season happens and that this can be as close to normal as what we have experienced in the past.”

While COVID-19 restrictions continue to be raised in many states, including New Jersey where MCSC is located, Trentacoste and other team representatives are still facing the dilemma of how to operate this summer in a way where both swimmers and their families feel comfortable participating. 

“We’re still evaluating what the regulations are going to be. However, there is potential for us to eliminate spectators so we can maintain social distancing, as well as having a mask mandate,” Trentacoste explained at the team’s registration night.

Figuring out ways to compete in a safe manner are just some of the curveballs that organizers are facing this summer, as many MCSC teams find themselves struggling to repair damages that their pools endured since the end of the 2019 summer season. From broken pipes to shattered tiling to weathered plaster, outdoor pools really paid the price for having a year without regular maintenance. 

“When we first went to the club, I was pretty shocked and grossed out. I figured that with over a year to reconstruct the pool that it would be nearing completion, not barely started,” admitted Monmouth Heights Stingrays coach Corrine Barr

As washed up leaves and puddles of muddy rainwater sat still on the pool’s scraped up concrete surface, while construction tools sprawled across the deck, Barr left her first coaches meeting feeling discouraged about how her team could possibly get the impending season underway.

Although, to the surprise of her and many others, steady progress has gone on to be made since that initial meeting at not only the Monmouth Heights Stingrays’ pool, but all of the other MCSC pools as well. While teams still face a few more upcoming pool renovations before the summer league season begins, swimmers, coaches and parents are staying confident with all of the progress completed. 

“We’ll be sure to celebrate any small successes that come our way. Each one will hopefully lead to another!” Tricia Barr, Monmouth Heights Stingrays parent representative and mother of Corrine Barr, cheerfully remarked. 

At the end of the day, it is this league-wide persistence and optimism to compete this season that represents what summer swimming is all about. To be able to have a welcoming environment for swimmers of all ages and skill levels to come together and take part in this beloved sport is a key component of summer swim teams. This is absolutely the motivating factor for the MCSC league, and summer leagues everywhere, to ensure that there will be a 2021 season.

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