Webb swimmers make waves at first ever virtual dual meet

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Kennedy Becher ('21)

Livia Hughson (‘21) races the butterfly leg of the 200-yard individual medley.

The last time Webb Swimming competed was March 6th, 2020 against Polytechnic School in Pasadena, just days before Webbies departed campus to begin virtual learning as the feeling of the looming pandemic crept across the deck. Now, more than a year later, Webb swimmers had the opportunity to compete again on March 16th2021; however, this time, everything looked different.  

For starters, it was a virtual meet, meaning Poly swam in their own pool with their own official. Webbies swam at the Barbara Mott McCarthy Aquatics Center at Webb with their own official. The two teams tried to run the meet concurrently, so while Webbies were swimming an event, the team in Poly is also swimming the same event as close to the same time as possible.  

At the conclusion of each event, the schools compared and assigned scores. The virtual format of the meet requires constant communication between the two pools.  

“Some of the challenges of hosting a virtual meet is that it’s not necessarily easy to get the live results from the other team in real time, so you are going back and forth communicating with the other team over at their school,” said assistant coach Elyssa Hawkins. “Obviously it’s very different than what you would expect of a traditional high school meet, however at the same time this group did a really great job of supporting one another and really focusing on everyone doing a great job and performing to the best of their ability especially since we are only a few weeks into season.” 

Coronavirus protocols allow one person per lane at a time. Additionally, everyone outside of the pool must be masked and socially distanced. The protocols are a constant reminder of how different of a situation we are currently in.  

“The covid protocols changed everything,” said Head Coach Ken Rosenfeld. “The only thing it didn’t change was the spirit of the event. If anything, the distancing brought us closer together because we have been craving this connectivity and so because of that we’re finding a new sense of team and we can feel it here.”  

Before the meet, the swim team set up the pool and timing touch pads for competition. As they stretched and warmed up, the teammates shared their pre-meet nerves and enthusiasm 

“I’m super nervous because I am still trying to get back into shape since we just started training,” said co-captain Madeline Lilley (‘22). “Also, I am excited because we haven’t been able to compete like this in such a long time and I am excited to see how everyone does. It’s the first meet. It’s an exciting time. It’s kind of a chance back at normalcy.”  

“I really missed the water so it’s a really good feeling to be back,” Nick lee (‘22) said. “It’s my first time for any sports competition in more than a year so I am so excited to compete and come out here and hopefully get a win.” 

Webb had a small squad of swimmers in comparison to previous years. The nature of the boarding school community means that only local swimmers were able to compete at this first meet.  

“We miss having everybody with us, so we were definitely only here in part, but we know that the people who were not physically here are here with us in spirit, Coach Rosenfeld said. “It definitely is a completely different swim season right now in a lot of ways except for in our hearts it still feels like the same.”  

Overall, 16 swimmers were able to come out and represent Webb, with six VWS junior varsity swimmers (five freshmen), six VWS varsity swimmers and four WSC varsity swimmers.   

“I’m really proud of all the freshmen that came out to the meet,” said co-captain Livia Hughson (‘21). “They went in and did a really great job.”  

“It was a good experience for new swimmers and veteran swimmers alike because we are all learning with the new safety restrictions due to Covid,” Logan Causley (‘22) said. “It was a nice start to the season. It was a really good learning experience for how to do meets.” 

Ultimately, both VWS and WSC varsity teams lost to Poly. WSC lost 95-32 and VWS lost 81-63. However, since this was the first meet of the season, the teams are not focusing on the numbers but rather just being grateful for the chance to compete again 

“It was definitely a meet to get us back into shape and into the swing of things and get us acquainted to the competitive swimming aspect,” Madeline said. 

The Webb swimmers will continue to train in this hybrid season and look forward to their next meet on April 23rd, 2021. The Webb community can follow the swim team as they train and compete on their Instagram, @webbswimanddive.