The COVID-19 outbreak in March continues to affect area sports, including local swim clubs, which still don’t know when they will be able to get into the pool.
Both the Watertown YMCA Blue Sharks and Lewis County Turbines had their seasons halted when sports in the area where canceled over six months ago.
Area swimmers continue to feel the effects this fall. Kaitlyn Renwick is a senior at Adirondack High School in Boonville, but has made the 30-minute trek to train in Lowville and also the 45-minute commute to Beaver Falls to train on Mondays with the Turbines since she was 13.
“It’s extremely disappointing not being able to swim with the club and during my senior year,” said Renwick, who finished second in the 200-yard freestyle at the Section 3 Class C meet. “I haven’t seen anyone from my team since March.”
The Turbines and the Blue Sharks were slated to take part in meets around the state when COVID-19 first postponed events and each were canceled when schools were shut down. The club was supposed to participate in the state meet in Albany, but that event was canceled when there was no place with an available pool.
“I feel bad for all the kids that qualified,” Turbines coach Noelle Haney said. “They missed out on a big opportunity.”
The Watertown YMCA Blue Sharks were also slated to compete in the New York State YMCA Championships at Erie Community College on March 20-22, but that event was canceled right away. The program was slated to send 42 swimmers to the event. Coach Lori Peters, who is also the varsity girls swimming coach at Watertown High School, said it was the right call.
“We were all disappointed to not be able to compete,” Peters said. “However, it was the best decision for the safety of our swimmers, coaches and families.”
The Blue Sharks season was completed in March. The 2020 YMCA Short Course National Championships, scheduled for March 30-April 3 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in North Carolina. was also canceled due to COVID-19. It was the first time the event was canceled since 1947.
The summer season for the Turbines was supposed to start in late April, but that was nixed due to current pandemic. However, the hiatus did help Haney take advantage of some time away from the pool.
“I’ve considered taking the summer off and letting someone else run the program,” Haney said. “We got to take a breath and go see family and have a good mental health break.”
Renwick has been keeping busy by training in her home gym and doing 30-minute rides on an exercise bike. She’s also been swimming at her home pool with special bands. However, she knows it’s no substitute for the real thing.
“It’s not the same as being in the pool,” Renwick said. “I doesn’t do half of what being in the pool does.”
Renwick’s senior season with the Wildcats is also on hold as her home Center State Conference has put girls swimming off until the spring. The season will be shortened to eight weeks and there will be overlap with the regular slate of spring sports.
She has been following the situation with some of her Turbines teammates in Lewis County that received permission to do a fall season.
“I’m very jealous of them, but we’re in different leagues,” Renwick said.
Haney is certain that a return to the pool will be welcome when the team is permitted to practice. She calls her Turbines team a tight-knit group that’s very close to each other.
“I think it’ll feel good to get back to the pool,” Haney said. “They spend a lot of time together.”