Swim team perseveres amidst COVID-19 setbacks

Junior Owen Tipton swims the 100 yard freestyle at the MSL meet. (Photo by Will Meyer)

Despite the ongoing challenges associated with COVID-19, the Bexley swim team has managed to place high at meets and advance many swimmers to districts and even states. 

Freshman Anja Hoy and sophomore Nicholas Minkin are both moving on to states after dropping their times at the district meet Feb. 18 at Bowling Green State University.

Hoy placed second at districts in the 100 meter backstroke event, and Minkin placed fourth in the 100 meter backstroke event and sixth in the 100 meter fly event.

Senior girls swim captain Arianna Martin explained that the district meet went well for everyone and that Bexley placed 14th overall. She said that the girls team placed eighth in the 200 meter medley relay event and eighth in the 400 meter free relay event. The boys team placed 13th in the 200 meter medley relay event and 11th in the 400 meter free relay event, she added.

“Overall, nine people qualified for individual events at districts,” Arianna Martin said. “I am so proud of how everyone gave it their all, and I am satisfied with everyone’s performance.”

She added that many swimmers besides Hoy and Minkin placed well at districts. Freshman Annabel Long placed seventh in the 100 meter individual medley relay event, senior Ally Grieshop placed fifth in the 500 freestyle event, and junior Eli Dresbach placed fourth in the 200 meter individual medley.

Arianna Martin explained that the team found success early in the season as well. She said that the boys team came in second place in the Mid-State League meet Jan. 29 at Columbus Academy and that the girls team came in fourth place Jan. 30 at Columbus School for Girls. 

“I couldn’t be happier with our teams’ effort this year,” Arianna Martin said. “We tried our best at every meet and the results do justice in showing that.”

Arianna Martin explained that although the outcome of this season was successful, the season was filled with major changes for the team. She said that the team is not allowed to practice at Columbus Schools for Girls anymore because of COVID-19 restrictions, so the team has to practice at Columbus Academy, which is a longer drive. 

“We practice at 5:30 in the morning, so it can be really exhausting and kind of sucks,” she said. 

Another challenge the team faced was when there were unexpected COVID-19 cases that resulted in team quarantine, she added. She explained that the quarantine and sudden stop in practicing cost the team valuable time to train.

Similarly, senior boys swim captain Phillip Martin said that the team faced adversity when they had to quarantine for two weeks. However, he said the team’s virtual dryland workouts were key to staying in shape and building team chemistry.

Despite the team schedule being uncertain due to COVID-19, the team was able to swim in many meets to prepare for sectionals, he explained.

“Every meet was not taken for granted, and each meet meant another opportunity for everyone to improve,” Phillip Martin said. 

He added that he could tell noticeable improvements in all the swimmers on the team due to their hard work and commitment. 

Even though the team was smaller this year because of many people choosing not to swim because of COVID-19, it just allowed for them to form closer relationships, Phillip Martin said. He added that the team planned lunches, dryland workouts and other events that worked on team bonding.

“Because no spectators were allowed at meets, our team chemistry was crucial since we needed to cheer each other on during our meets,” Phillip Martin said. 

Head coach Sandy Sliwowski said that she also believes that the team’s successful performance can be attributed to the large amount of effort and bonding that the team put in. She explained that such dedication has led to significant time drops toward the end of the season.

Although the meets have gone well given the unique circumstances, Sliwowski explained that the team will need some rebuilding next year. 

“We are losing a lot of valuable seniors this year that are going to leave a big hole in both our team and our hearts,” she said.

Phillip Martin explained that he was beyond happy to see his teammates excel in meets, break personal records, and have five boys swimmers and seven girls qualify for districts.

“After such a tough year for everyone, it was great to end the season on a good note,” he said. “I hope the swim team can find success again next year.”