Six days before their season was set to start, the Saratoga Springs High School Girls Varsity Swim Team found out they weren’t going to have a pool to swim in.
Normally, they’d train and compete on the Skidmore College campus, but this year, that was no longer an option. Luckily, the Saratoga Springs Branch of the Saratoga Regional YMCA was willing to step up as a safe alternative.
“It really wasn’t a tough decision to make, even on such short notice. When the school reached out to us, our pool had already been open for three months, our safety and cleaning protocols were already in place, we’ve been following all NYS guidelines since we reopened, and we have phenomenal staff here at the Y. Therefore, I was extremely confident we’d be able to accommodate them quickly, and safely,” said Executive Director Steve Butler.
TO SINK OR SWIM
Swimming is a sport that athletes typically train for year-round, but that hasn’t been a possibility for many who are competing this year.
“Swimming has been one of those sports that it’s been very hard to keep active in. Finding a pool to practice in was very challenging over the summer and now, has been almost impossible,” said coach Josh Muldner.
In addition to the Y creating the opportunity for athletes to practice and compete a healthy environment, it’s the commitment of the school staff, student athletes and their families that has made the 2020 season a reality.
Swimmers are usually up early in the morning, practicing from 5:30 to 7:30 am, but this year, to fit them in the schedule without taking pool time away from Y members, or the Y swim team, the Stingrays, the 22 girls on the Saratoga Varsity swim team don’t begin working out until 8 pm. Their swim practice ends at 10 pm.
Another layer of complexity added this year has been that only two out of their six meets will be in-person, the others are hosted virtually, with the teams competing at separate sites and the results registered remotely.
SWIMMING WITH THE CURRENT
Despite these challenges, Muldner, who is in his 16th season as a couch and is also a counselor with the district, has remained hopeful.
“You just don’t know what is going to happen and if it’s going to be the last time that you’ll be together. Every day that we’re together is a gift and the Y has allowed that gift to be possible,” he said.
The team held their Senior Recognition Ceremony at the Y Pavilion this week. At this socially distant pool-themed reception under the lights, juniors shared their personal stories about how the team’s seven senior swimmers impacted their lives in a meaningful way.
“These girls have grown up together and its very touching to hear them speak,” said Muldner.
If conditions allow, in addition to their virtual meets, the Varsity Girls Swim Team will compete in the Suburban Council Championship meet on November 20th & 21st and a year-end award ceremony will be held.
“Of course, this will be very different than what we’ve done in the past, but we’re very excited to be able to offer them something,” said Muldner.