By: Alexa Camerino
As we all know, Covid-19 has had an impact on our daily lives. High school students have had to sacrifice so much, such not being able to go to school in person and socialize normally with their friends. Although students are living very different lives from past years, they are still able to compete in athletics which is extremely important.
Although fall sports were able to occur, it was questionable whether or not winter sports would happen due to the fact that they are inside and social distancing is not as easy. The seasons did end up being pushed back, but luckily the state allowed them to have a shortened season.
Swim is hard to social distance for, but the James Caldwell High School swim team does their best. Wearing a mask all around the facility is just one precaution they have to abide by. Making sure there are only three people per lane who are distancing, where past years there could be up to ten, is another rule Caldwell must follow. Practices have to be planned out and new rosters are made every day, limiting the number of people on the team able to be in the pool each day.
Along with social distancing and wearing masks, the Caldwell Swimming Chiefs also changed to mainly virtual meets; meaning they do not come into contact with the opposing teams. With this, the team is able to hold meets at their own pool, competing only against themselves, and later sharing times with the opposing team, who also swam in their home pool. Using this technique, the season remains safe and distanced, but also competitive.
The Chiefs could not be stopped to push for their season. Despite the unknown of being able to have a season due to COVID-19, they also had to fight for their home pool. This past year, the town was pushing to close the Caldwell Community Center, which has been their home pool for many years. It was not looking promising, but with a lot of petitions and help from other towns, the Chiefs were able to push back the closing of the community center for at least one more season. They had a hard time at the beginning of the season, as the town asked the Chiefs to stop using the pool on the second day of practice, but the Swimming Chiefs did not give up.
Coach Trivino is very excited for this upcoming season, explaining, “After coaching the Swimming Chiefs for 21 years, year 22 looked like it was never going to happen due to concerns of COVID-19. During 2020, the Caldwell Community Center, our home venue closed and the Mayor of Caldwell made a statement that the Center would close due to financial concerns. The Swim Chiefs were homeless.”
Caldwell’s Athletic Director Dan Romano was adamant in finding a solution. He, along with many swim parents, approached the CCC to consider opening for just a group of swim teams during the winter months. Thankfully, they agreed. The Swimming Chiefs along with four other Essex County teams found a home from February 11 to March 27.
JCHS will be led through this virtual swim season by Boys Team Captains Ben Endersby (2020 Essex County Champion), Phillip Krupp, and James Phillips. Grace Zamloot and Isabella Camerino will captain the 2020 State Champion Girls Team. All of the meets will be virtual events, with Caldwell swimming at the community center while the competition swims the same events at their home venue. It may not be the ideal situation, but if this allows the Chiefs to have a season under these strange times we are experiencing, I know the team will live up to this year’s motto and be ‘VIRTUALLY THE BEST’ this year as we swim together in 2021. Coach Trivino has stayed positive throughout these hardships, showing a true representation of his character as a coach and teacher.
Senior Captain Grace Zamloot is extremely excited about her last season being able to happen, saying, “Our season is on thin ice but with proper caution and smart decisions I think it will be great. I could not be more excited to be able to have my last season as a Swimming Chief.”
After almost losing their home pool due to the Community Center shut down, COVID-19 restrictions, and the threat of no season, everyone on the team is very excited to be there. As long as they keep up with good decisions and mask wearing, they will not be stopped.