Despite loss to Rancho Bernardo, swimmers maintain excitement for season

Lucy Sullivan, Staff Writer

Chloe Fisher (11), Sayra Owens (12), and Kaia Wong (11) dive into the pool for the 100-yard freestyle. Photo by Lucy Sullivan.

The air was thick with chlorine and flecks of water as swimmers with black sharpie event numbers on their wrists broke the surface of the pool and began their event. At last,  some sense of normalcy had returned.

After almost a year of not having any meets, the swim team has begun their official season, and is competing again.

Swim and Dive had their third official meet against Rancho Bernardo (RB) at the RB pool on March 18, with a girls loss (104-81) and a boys loss (93-74).

Like many swimmers, Ally Diep (11) has experienced pre-race anxiety in the pastbut she felt more nervous than usual before the meet at RB. The uncertainty of the COVID-19-modified season comes with a new set of worries.

“This whole season has me feeling really up and down; I’m so hyped that we even have a season, but I know that it might be dangerous and could be shut down at any given time,” Diep said. “There are mixed emotions before any meet, but especially now, I find myself feeling way more jittery.” 

Despite her nerves, Diep won the 500-yard freestyle, an event that she wasn’t originally planning on participating in.

“One of our 500 swimmers got stung by a bee, so I took her spot in the 500 [free],” she said. “I actually did pretty well, [I] think it was a combination of the adrenaline from running around rearranging events and getting the chance to race Lily Andreani, one of my teammates.”

Unlike Diep, Kaia Wong (11) wasn’t feeling terribly nervous before she swam her event, the 100-yard butterfly.

The 100 fly is infamous for being skillfully difficult as well as physically draining, but Wong was up for the challenge.

“I’ve been swimming the 100 fly since I was [on a] club [team],” Wong said, “so it’s not something I’m unprepared for.”

As the 100 fly drew closer, she occupied herself spending time with teammates, an experience often taken for granted pre-COVID, but her drive for competition ensured that she was ready and excited for her event.

“Being able to have meets for swim really just made me realize how much I enjoy getting out there and participating in some type of competition,” she said. 

In a close race, she placed second, breaking her previous personal record with a time of 1:04:53.

Wong credits fierce competition on RB’s part as having played a role in her success.

“The club swimmers all know each other, so we knew that the girl I was racing from RB was really good,” she said, “I think having her as competition really did push me.”

Noah Rooney (11) swims the 100- yard butterfly at Rancho Bernardo, March 18. Photo by Lucy Sullivan.

Finally returning to what he loves, Nolan Nguyen (11) scored a win for the boys team in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 51:46.

During his race, Nguyen said he felt good, but despite his win, he felt that there was room for improvement.

“I felt very zen,” Nguyen said. “I kind of let all of life go and live[d] in the moment to focus on that one thing, [but] after, I felt I could do better. I felt that I could for sure go faster than what I swam [and told] myself next time go fast and don’t [have] any regrets.”

Despite uncertainty about the possibility of a CIF meet, the team is making most of the season that they have. 

“I hope we can make it a memorable and exciting one, especially for our freshmen and seniors,” Diep said. “It’s alright if we don’t get to have a huge, over-the-top championship, as long as we have fun and make some memories along the way.”