Summit Tigers swimmers and divers maintain optimism despite restrictions on season
Tigers next jump into the pool at home meet Saturday
Summit Tigers swim and dive coach Jenny Wischmeyer nearly was brought to tears at a recent practice when she saw the positive energy, optimism and creative solutions her girls have come up with amid a difficult sporting situation.
Like other high school sports, Tigers swimming and diving has been affected by health regulations. Those changes include far fewer swimmers and divers across Colorado being able to qualify for the state meet, far fewer meets taking place and only so many student-athletes able to get into the pool at each meet. The Tigers also have several top senior athletes unable to practice or compete due to contact-tracing quarantines.
So when Wischmeyer’s swimmers came to her at practice and shared the idea of having six of them timing home meets, rather than parents or other officials, she thought it was a great idea. That’s because that’s six more girls who will be able to experience competition — even if they aren’t racing — rather than sitting at home.
“I just feel like we are just trying to do the best we can with what we got,” Wischmeyer said. “I’m trying not to compare it to other years or worry about how behind they are. I’m just trying to be appreciative every day we get to practice.
“My girls are being very understanding and thankful for what we got, and I’m on the deck going, ‘How am I going to only put 10 girls in the meet this weekend? It’ll leave people out.’ And the girls are like, ‘We’ll time.’”
The Tigers swimmers and divers didn’t stop there. Their optimism led them to ask their coaches if they could decorate the Summit High pool room with posters and mermaid balloons. With no one in the stands, Wischmeyer said, it was the girls’ way of making it feel like there’s something special happening — no matter how turbulent the season is.
“Basically, this year, everything is super chaotic, and you don’t know when things are going to happen,” said senior diver Mya Nichols, who is not able to practice with the team because of contact tracing from an academic class, though she has tested negative for the virus.
“Our season was pushed back two months,” Nichols said, “and all of the meets, we’re not sure if we’ll have them or who will be there and what the restrictions are. So we’re kind of going day by day and seeing what’s going to happen. In the past, we did a lot of team-building exercises, lots of hugging, close activities. This year, we can’t do nearly as much just because of COVID. So that’s been a little bit sad, but I’m super grateful to have a season this year.”
Nichols added that she’s also grateful for Wischmeyer’s efforts to make the season work in her 20th year with the program and for first-year diving coach Kevin Heil.
When in the pool, Wischmeyer said seniors Abby Anderson, Sydney Mullins, Alice Wescott and Taylor Lee are poised to have a great season, while Nichols and fellow senior Liz Pfau should do well on the platform. The tricky thing for Wischmeyer will be getting all the girls in the water because current restrictions limit meets to 50 swimmers. That means only 10 of 27 Tigers swimmers will be able to race at Saturday’s five-team home meet.
With the rule changes governing practice, Lee said the coaches are doing the best they can to coach up some young, talented swimmers, like freshman Ashley Leidel, who swam to third place as the Tigers’ top swimmer in the 200-yard freestyle Jan. 30. Anderson was another top performer, racing to third place in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.
“I think our team is really good about just keeping the spirit and the social environment and the support,” said Lee, who is also unable to be with the team due to contact tracing despite testing negative for the virus.
“With every level of swimming and diving, everyone is inclusive,” Lee said. “And, especially this year — we can’t do sleepovers and team dinners — I think team environment is still there. It’s harder this year to keep it, but it’s still there.
“I love swimming. I think it’s a great outlet for letting go of stress and escaping school for the minute. School is overwhelming right now with how much you have to do. Especially with the quarantines, you’re going to spend a lot of time at home. When you’re quarantined, you just want to get active and do stuff, and swimming is great for that, to be able to get out of the house and socialize.”
• Feb. 6: Five-team meet at Summit, 10 a.m.
• Feb. 13: Four-team meet at Glenwood Springs, 10:30 a.m.
• Feb. 19: At Glenwood Springs, 4:45 p.m.
• Feb. 23: Four-team diving meet at Gunnison, 1 p.m.
• March 5-6: Western Slope League championships
• March 13: 3A state finals in Thornton
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