HHS Swim Team Dives Into Exciting Season

Susanna Conway

APR. 30, 2021

After over a year out of the pool, Healdsburg High Schools' swim team returned to practice last month, bringing optimism and excitement to swimmers and coaches.

After over a year out of the pool, Healdsburg High Schools' swim team returned to practice last month, bringing optimism and excitement to swimmers and coaches. “It’s great to see the children out, and I think mentally for the students it’s just been amazing,” said Coach Lorna Hayman, who has been coaching the team for three years. For many swimmers, like senior and 4-year team member Mielle McLure, last month's return came after months of little to no swimming opportunities. “It felt really good [to be back] because I did not swim at all, but also it felt terrible because I was so slow. Now I’m starting to get up to a good speed” McLure said.
According to the teams’ coaches, all swimmers’ have shown major improvements over the past month after starting from “ground zero”. “In the beginning, people who have been out of the pool for almost a year were out of shape and things like stroke mechanics had slid,” said three-year Head Coach Dean Clark. “Their cardiovascular [endurence] has increased and their stroke technique has gotten much better, so overall I’d say there’s been 100% improvement”.
Though exciting, this season’s return has come with new protocols and COVID safety restrictions, which have changed the dynamics of both practices and meets. “Having to follow all of the COVID protocols has been tough. A lot of paperwork kind of takes the fun out of it,” said Coach Hayman. In addition to social distancing and mask mandates, daily temperature checks and symptom screenings are required to ensure the safety of both swimmers and coaches. “We have to be a little extra careful being socially distanced and the teams we’re going against are smaller but everybody cares just as much [as last year] and we’re trying hard to swim fast,” said junior and four-year team member Jake Gordon.
This has not, however, affected positive attitudes, as this year's team appears to be more spirited than ever. “The enthusiasm and the energy this year is better, and I love the positivity,” said Coach Clark. The excitement of competition has also raised the spirits of swimmers, as most meets are seen as opportunities for encouragement and improvement rather than stress. “The motivation of getting ready for meets again and compete has helped us become better swimmers”, said Gordon.
As the season progresses, both coaches and swimmers have set their eyes on individual and group-oriented goals. For some, like Gordon, personal goals are directed towards swimming times. “I hope to break a minute for 100 fly and break 1:10 for 100 breast,” he said. Others, like McLure, hope to continue to swim at a fast pace for long distances. For coaches, team goals are aimed at developing and improving both skills and attitudes. “My main goal was just to improve people’s techniques, improve people’s speed, and just make it a really good positive experience,” said Coach Clark. “So far, I think that’s happened and so I just kind of expect a build on that”.
With just under a month left in the season, the Healdsburg High School swim team is looking optimistically into the future, as high-spirited meets continue and daily practices become opportunities for interaction, excitement, and improvement. Next year, the team hopes to come back stronger than ever, as the possibilities of a normal season increase along with the motivation, attitude, and determination of its members.