WHS’s swim and dive teams face uncertainty


Credit: Deirdre Brown

Wayland High School’s varsity swim team stands together after the announcement of the boys team’s state and sectional meet win in Feb. 2020. Since then, WHS’s swimming and diving teams have not competed in-person at a state or sectional meet due to the pandemic, and they participated in virtual events throughout the last season. “We feel confident that we’ll have them ready regardless of what the state tells us to do or when we can do it,” swim and dive coach Michael Foley said. “We’re going to be prepared.”

Nadya Chase

Due to concerns regarding the spreading of COVID-19, Wayland High School’s swim and dive team may not have a pool to compete in for their state and sectional meets. Although barely any information has been released, the teams’ captains and coach have considered the possibility of an in-person meet with limitations or another virtual meet.

Last winter, swimmers and divers were not permitted to compete in-person in the state and sectional meets. Instead, each team swam and dove in their own pools and compared times with competing teams. As the new season begins, team members and coaches are excited to experience more normalcy within their swim season.

“I was looking forward to actually being with other teams at pools because last year we did all our meets virtually,” senior swim captain Zach Mittelsteadt said. “This year, it will be nice to get back together and actually be able to race against [swimmers who are] not my teammates.”

In previous years, states and sectionals have been held in pools at Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. However, due to the pandemic, colleges have been reluctant to open their pools to large events that are not directly correlated to their own school. Because of this, the WHS swim and dive team does not currently have a place to compete for their state and sectional meets.

The swimmers and divers will remain uncertain about the location of their meets until colleges decide to re-engage in the discussion about allowing outside teams to use their pools.

“We really won’t know anything about those big meets until we’re probably halfway done with the season, and I don’t know if we’ll get the weekend [practices] that we are planning [to have],” swim and dive coach Michael Foley said.

With the lack of information released about the location of the state and sectional meets, swim and dive team members worry that these important events may not happen at all. While Foley plans to prepare the athletes to swim and dive at the usual college pools, he has also considered the possibility of virtual meets.

“We’re going to get after things and attack it just as we’re planning right now, that there will be a sectionals and states meet in that second and third week of Feb., and we’ll do everything we can to get the team ready for that,” Foley said. “If for some reason it falls through, like last year when we didn’t have [in-person meets], and we did a makeshift [Dual County League] championship meet and a virtual type of championship. We feel confident that we’ll have them ready regardless of what the state tells us to do or when we can do it. We’re going to be prepared.”

Before the pandemic, states and sectionals consisted of cheering fans, high spirits and a shared anticipation awaiting the announcement of the crowned individual state champion and each team’s overall score. Although the possible virtual meets in discussion for this year’s states and sectionals are better than nothing, it is hard to match the stimulating atmosphere of the in-person events.

“Swimming virtually is difficult because the teams you are competing against aren’t there, so the motivation has to come from within,” senior swim captain Eliya Howard-Delman said.“It’s also hard because you don’t know the results for longer which kills the excitement.”

If the state and sectional meets are unable to be held at the usual college pools this year, Foley is hopeful that the WHS swimming and diving teams will be able to compete in other in-person events. However, unlike previous years, there is a high possibility that spectators will not be allowed to watch and cheer on the athletes due to COVID-19 precautions.

“I know the Dual County League is still hopeful they’ll find something, so if sectionals or states were canceled, then I think we might be able to at least get a Dual County League championship meet in,” Foley said.

Whether the state and sectional meets happen in-person at a college pool, in-person at another location or virtually, Foley knows the team will rally and give it their all.

“I’m confident that we’ll do well, and I’m confident the seniors will help prepare the team along with the coaches,” Foley said. “We’ll get them ready to swim fast and dive well wherever we’re at.”