With the start of the winter season delayed until Jan. 4 due to Covid-19, a difficult time for area swimmers and coaches will continue into 2021.
But locals are braving through it.
From holding Zoom meetings to designing at-home workouts to simply finding places to swim, teams have been holding strong together through unprecedented adversity.
“Our aquatic club and high school teams did a great job of finding places to swim over the summer,” Souderton Area swimming and diving coach Lou Williams said. “The high school pool, Harleysville Community and Souderton Community pools were all off limits…”
Souderton had to seek open waters elsewhere.
“We were able to work a deal with Lansdale Borough to use the Whites Road pool,” Williams explained. “We created a new relationship with the Indian Valley Country Club to use their pool. And we rented space at the Lansdale YMCA this fall to give kids a chance to swim.”
Water polo season surely helped. The season gave several swimmers a chance to get back into a groove.
“Most of our swimmers also play water polo so it was positive that they were able to have competitive experiences in the fall and that training carries over into the start of the winter season,” Williams said.
Souderton is a strong team with a proud history.
The boys team will welcome back several experienced performers like Robbie Ferlick, Brien Yaglenski, Drew Stephens, Kristian Stanczewski, and diver Paxton Flandro. Ellie Hiestand, Ally Beldham, Abby Burns, and Alexis Krebs are familiar names on the girls side.
The pandemic has created separation in a lot of ways, but Souderton has been hard at it to keep everyone together.
“We’ve been offering at-home workouts (swimming and dryland) and Zoom meetings during the breaks,” Williams said. “That will continue as we bridge the gap until Jan. 4.”
Continuity is definitely a big part of a swimmer’s life, but the practice routine has been altered a bit.
“Practices have been a bit different as we’ve split our boys and girls team practice times to keep numbers within limits,” the coach said. “We used to practice together.”
Not only have numbers been an issue with the teams, but also maintaining and filling the coaching staffs.
“Staffing has been an issue as two of my assistant coaches had to turn down their positions due to COVID issues,” Williams said. “One’s an EMT who is seeing positive COVID cases regularly, and the other is newly pregnant and not able to spend time in the high school.
“I also had to miss three weeks of preseason practices because of positive cases in my own house.”
Adversity has come in many forms, but everyone is striving towards the big reward – the season itself.
“It’s been a challenge, but the kids and I keep moving forward one day at a time,” Williams said. “Just hoping we get the chance to compete at some point. Swimming is way too hard a sport to train without some competitive payoff or way to judge improvement.”