Goggles, cap—and mask?

By Anthony Caporale

“We had to wear our masks at all times when we were not in the water, and we were not supposed to hang out on the pool deck unless we were swimming” stated Sara Basala, explaining the details of the COVID-19 restrictions at the Westminster swim meet.


Last February, the SVC team was swimming at the PAC championships. (Source: athletics.stvincent.edu)

Basala, a sophomore biochemistry major, is a member of the Saint Vincent women’s swimming team, one of the few SVC teams that has managed to compete at an athletic event this year. Her experience is an insight to what a winter-spring sports season will look like for all athletes in 2021.

There were several restrictions in place for the women’s meet at Westminster on Feb. 5. Mask wearing and social distancing were enforced. Fans were not allowed to attend in person but could watch the meet on a live stream from the school’s athletic website.

Right from the beginning, the COVID-19 restrictions were taken seriously at Westminster.

“When we first got there, we had to split up the team into two locker rooms,” Basala said. “They limited the number of swimmers in each room.”

However, the mask wearing restrictions brought some frustration to the swimmers getting ready for their event.

“I am used to being prepared five or ten minutes before my race (goggles and cap on) and now I have the mask to worry about. I know it’s really important to wear them, but it makes me weirdly anxious when I’m behind the blocks, about to race, and I am not ready to go” Basala explained.

These frustrations and anxieties over COVID-19 procedures are unfamiliar and challenging to returning swimmers. But they are difficult for new swimmers too.


Both the men’s and the women’s swim teams finished third overall at the February 2020 PAC championships. (Source: athletics.stvincent.edu)

Chris Jewel, a freshman with an undeclared major, does not feel that the restrictions were bothersome at the meets, but states that the lack of organized practice and swimming over the winter break were more frustrating.

Jewel also hopes that the “whole men’s swimming team can all swim together, since a majority of them have been in quarantine.”

But the new frustrations could not stop swimmers of both teams from winning their events. The women’s 200 Meter Medley Relay team finished first, and Basala ended up winning the 100 Meter Breaststroke at Westminster.

At Grove City on Feb. 6, the men’s 200 Meter Freestyles Relay finished first, with great performances from Kris Smith and Kevin Martin at the men’s Westminster meet on Feb. 8.

Although the 2021 sports season has been a challenge, the men and women’s swimming teams have managed to compete at a total of three meets. And the swimmers are in good spirits.

“I know it is a really tough time … so I think that all the other teams are doing a great job at making the best of the situation. I know that our girl and guy’s teams are still working hard through all of this and will continue to do so in preparation for our championship meet” said Basala.

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