WENATCHEE — Normally, high school girls would be preparing for their fall swim season with summer meets with the Velocity Swim Team. But there has been no summer swim season.
And now, there will be no fall season. The girls’ swim season has been moved to the spring in hopes the COVID numbers in the area will have improved by then.
Eastmont Head Coach Darcy Bruggman said with the local public pools closed her swimmers have been swimming at Lake Chelan.
“A lot of the girls I’ve heard from, without water, have been doing more the strength and conditioning, whether running or dryland practice, which we do throughout the season,” Bruggman said. “We’ve been training a different way and just making the best of it. That’s all we can do.”
Wenatchee is still without a girls and boys swim coach since the June passing of James Elwyn. Athletic Director Jim Beeson said he hopes to hire coaches for the boys and girls next week.
Velocity Swimming Head Coach Mike Hartley was a longtime assistant swim coach at Wenatchee. He said moving the swim season from fall to spring might mess with the timing of the girls.
“There is a group of seniors that are excellent swimmers that are used to having that in the fall,” Hartley said. “It kicks off the year. It makes it nice to kick off their senior year. Moving it to the spring just changes the rhythm of their year. It might also affect some of those who are trying to be recruited. Some of the kids have their best times in the fall.”
Hartley is not sure how much of a problem it will be for the girls without a summer swim season.
“We’re in the water right now, but it’s unclear what will happen with Velocity in the fall and winter. Even in the spring, there’s no guarantee they are going to be able to use Velocity in the way most of the athletes have in the past, to train up for the high school season,” Hartley said.
Bruggman said, for her girls, swimming is a huge part of their life, so this has been tough.
“The kids have swum and trained together with since they were young. It’s like their second family,” she said. “They are resilient, great kids. We have a fantastic group of seniors. They are the reason why I stuck in there. I promised I would graduate with them. A lot of these kids I saw when I coached Barracudas and helped with Velocity when they were 5-6 years old. I sure hope we get that last hurrah, even just for a couple of months.”
Once it was announced the teachers could not be in the classroom with the students, Bruggman knew the fall season was in jeopardy. The sad part is a spring season is not assured either.
“Even though the season is planned, we have to have (reached) Phase 3. We’re not getting anywhere near that. We just have to come to a place where we are all healthy. Coming back with them in shape is going to be a challenge,” she said. “It is just a short season. Every day we get closer; we just hope we get there.”
On the positive side, Hartley said moving the girls season to spring should make it easier academically.
Many of the swimmers are excellent students, he said.
“A lot of seniors have really tough first semesters, but an easy second semester,” he said. “One of the nice things about it — moving the swim season to a less intense academic time. Because of my experience coaching the high school team for so long, I know they are really busy in the fall but less in the spring.”
Wenatchee girls finished fourth in state last season. Hartley believes since all the teams are in the same boat, the Panthers will be good again.
“There is the possibility of moving the season disrupts it enough to change the experience. The Wenatchee team is going to be strong either way. My hope is that they have a season,” Hartley said. “That would be a terrible loss, moved it from the fall to spring with the hope of having a season. The boys are in the same kind of thing. They have not been affected yet, but we’re still hoping there is a season.”
Boys swim season is part of WIAA Season 2, which is Dec. 28 to Feb. 27. Counties must be Phase 3 for the season to take place.
Bruggman was planning to step down as swim coach after the season. She wanted to stay for her senior girls. Someway, somehow, there needs to be a completion and finish, she said.
“It would be very hard for me to leave these seniors that I’ve been with for many years. They are amazing kids,” Bruggman said.