Minnesota High Schools Hopeful Girls Swimming Can Finish Season As New School Year Starts

Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, home of the Minnesota high school state championships. Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @GopherSwimDive

As a new school year starts amid month six of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota high school girls swimming returns to official practice on Monday, August 17. A lot of hurdles had to be crossed to get swimmers to return to the water, with USA Swimming first outlining what “socially distant practices” would look like, as well as numerous health departments needing to decide if holding swim practice is safe.

In Minnesota, traditional fall sports football and volleyball have been moved to the spring, while girls swimming remained in the fall.

With so much planning going into the start of the season, many are just hoping they can get through the fall without a hitch.

“I’m so excited to start the season,” Park of Cottage Grove athletic director Phil Kuemmel told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. “But I want to finish the season as well.”

Minnesota high school girls swim teams will only be limited to dual meets and the state championships have been eliminated. Some conferences will be doing virtual swim meets only and some will have dual meets in the same venue.

The league urged that the first week of practice focus on non-sports routines including “implementing effective protocols and routines for pre-participation screenings, effective social distancing, compliance with all health recommendations, [and] establishment of pod limits of 25 or less,” according to the Star Tribune.

Schools are taking precautions trying to keep everybody healthy, with proper social distancing at the forefront. If any students or faculty show signs of illness, they must self isolate for a minimum 10 days, much like it is at schools all over the United States.

“The maintenance of 6 feet of distance between others, whether you have a face mask or not, is so important,” said Deb Mehr, health services coordinator for District 196 (Apple Valley, Eastview and Rosemount), during a recent school board meeting. “We’ve learned that it isn’t as much because of contact spread. It’s more the distance of respiratory droplets.”

As many schools have resumed on-campus learning this month, many around the country are hopeful that this model can be sustained. Some school districts have already had to shut down with new COVID outbreaks, causing nervousness around the country as other school districts return to on-campus learning in the coming weeks.

That sentiment roars true in Minnesota, as noted above with Kuemmel’s remark. Finishing a season safely is just as important as starting one.

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