Frontier League boys swimming schools are ready to make the plunge later this month.
The league met to finalize a schedule last week and seven schools are slated to start the season Jan. 26 when two meets are to take place.
Some teams like Indian River and South Jefferson started practice on Monday, Jan. 4 while the rest of the schools held their first practices later that week.
“The important thing is to get our swimmers in the water and give them an activity they can focus on and enjoy,” Lowville coach Eric Virkler said.
Swimming and bowling are the only Frontier League sports allowed to have a season at this time since they are low- to moderate-risk under coronavirus guidelines. Other sports such as basketball, hockey and wrestling are considered high-risk and are postponed indefinitely.
Swimming meets will have a different feel as they will all be virtual at this point. However, teams are allowed to conduct traditional face-to-face events, with the approval of superintendents and athletic directors from both competing schools.
“All of the coaches are in support of (virtual meets) and we will make the best of the unusual circumstances,” Virkler said.
This season will be condensed to four weeks with meets on Tuesday and Thursday. There will be no Frontier League, Section 3 or state meets this season due to COVID-19, but swimmers will have a chance to say they made sectionals if they hit the qualifying standard.
However, Watertown going fully remote until Feb. 1 may put a crimp in some of those plans for the Cyclones. The school announced last week that in-person learning is halted from Jan. 11 through Jan. 29. Cyclones coach and Frontier League chairman Tom Graban got two practices in before the announcement last Friday.
“I kind of had a feeling that we’d be getting the phone call to shut it down,” Graban said.
He told his team that there will be plenty of dry land training during the pause, as the team won’t have access to the school pool while the district is in remote learning. Graban is grateful that his team is still putting in the effort despite a shortened season.
“They’ll text me every couple of days to get a new series of workouts,” Graban said. “The kids are just happy to do something.”
Watertown will not make up those dates that were slated for Jan. 26, at South Jefferson, and Jan. 28, a home meet against Carthage. The Comets just got back to practice this week after coming off remote learning.
The season is slated to wrap up Feb. 11 if no other schools have their seasons stopped by going to fully virtual.
Section 10 swimming schools are expected to start their practices on Jan. 18 and host a season until late February. There will be no championship meets in Section 10. Gouverneur, which swims with the Frontier League schools, Malone and Canton/Potsdam will field teams this season.
Schools are expecting some athletes who would otherwise compete in another winter sport to give swimming a try this year. Indian River said they have a few athletes from different sports trying out the sport for the first time.
“We’re pretty much the only game in town with all the other sports not playing,” Graban said.