Girls varsity swim and dive grapples with bonding challenges

Along+with+changes+to+swim+practices+like+mask+requirements+out+of+the+water%2C+the+team+has+had+to+change+its+traditional+team-building+activities.

CONTRIBUTED BY AMBER MICKELSON

Along with changes to swim practices like mask requirements out of the water, the team has had to change its traditional team-building activities.

Elaborate outfits. Hilarious moments. A notorious tight-knit community. Countless memories outside of the water. Still a family, even with new changes.

Aside from their athleticism, the girls varsity swim and dive team (GVSD) is known for its tight-knit community and enthusiasm for dressing up in creative outfits on meet days. This year, new rules relating to COVID-19 have altered the team’s ability to work on strengthening their friendships and bond.

Due to new social distancing requirements, GVSD practices and meets operated differently this year. Senior and co-captain Alyssa Chen said social distancing led to difficulties with bonding.

“It has been really difficult because we are all usually on one wall, and now that we are split up, are halfway across the pool, and we cannot see each other. Also, we used to all stretch and talk in a big group afterwards about how our days were going and stuff, and that really is not possible this year,” Chen said.

The new changes require athletes to stay in assigned lanes in the pool. Many girls agreed that it was trickier to get to know the girls outside of their own lane. However, the girls said they have been able to form strong bonds with teammates swimming with them.

Swim coach Cary Monz also said lane partners were able to connect well and that she is happy that the girls were able to create relationships and build close support circles.

“I think this season has shown us how close and connected we all can be while still following social distancing guidelines. Many girls on the team will play games with their lane partners while they swim and they have continued to find ways to motivate and support each other,” Monz said.

To try and help the girls enjoy the season under the difficult circumstances, the roles of the captains have adjusted, partly because they do not need to plan for states and other post-season meets that got canceled.

Senior and co-captain Becca Nguyen has helped shift the priorities of the captains this year towards enjoying the seasons.

“Our top priority for this year is not continuing the competitive nature of the team like in the past, but to really focus and emphasize on having fun and connecting with one another,” Nguyen said.

GVSD is well-known for putting a lot of energy into their spirit days and standing out in the hallways with their elaborate outfits. This year, the team decided to opt-out of doing spirit days. Many of the girls, including sophomore Ellie Eisenhauer, said that she wished they could still have them.

“We have not found an alternative for our spirit days which is so sad because they are so fun,” Eisenhauer said. “Our season was severely shortened this year due to COVID and remote learning, so the team decided not to have them. We are known for our team spirit, but online would not be the same. The captains have done their best creating team spirit with the situation we are in, but it is sadly not the same.”

Even with all the changes that came with the season, the GVSD team still gets along great and consider each other as family. Nguyen said she was happy to be back with her team and to be able to spend time with them again.

“I love being able to see my swim and dive gals,” Nguyen said. “It’s been especially hard to connect with friends and see them in person, so I love how close we are all getting and how comfortable we are with each other on the team.”