By ARJUN SUDHALKAR ‘23 and JASON ZHENG ‘22
Although the Covid-19 pandemic posed many challenges for schools’ athletic departments, the swim team at Edison High School adapted to ensure the members’ safety during practice and competitive meets. For over a year, the pandemic altered every aspect of daily life, making essential tasks seemingly impossible. However, the EHS swim team continues to represent the school throughout the county despite its late start. There was reduced participation in the season, an expected consequence of the pandemic, due to the general fear of the virus. Nevertheless, both returning and new members committed to work even harder while enjoying the challenge along the way.
The Eagle’s Eye talked to two captains on the team, Dhruv Shidhaye ’22 and Ishita Gabhane ’22. Both reiterated the amount of safety precautions taken by coaches and swimmers, such as designated practice lanes that were set up with markers. In the end, the success of this season depended on one factor: the trust system. By joining the team, each member pledged to avoid unnecessary contact with others, and basic hygiene was stressed. The team members remained distant in the pool during meets, a much different atmosphere from the physical proximity that usually characterizes this sport.
Although wearing a mask is not practical at all times, the swim team adapted to the challenges to cope with the easily transmittable virus. For example, the team wore masks when not in the pool. Moreover, the coaches ensured that there were no groups together while on the bus and during meets. Temperature checks were used to make sure that there were no symptoms of Covid-19 present amongst the team members. One of the coaches, Charles Jammal, also had experience from coaching the freshmen soccer team earlier in the year. There is no guaranteed way to eliminate the risk of Covid-19, but this system has been effective throughout the season and has allowed team members to compete without worry during the pandemic.
A large degree of this success can be attributed to the many teachers involved with the team. These supervisors utilized the app Remind to send messages to members and members’ parents. Many of the fall sports laid the foundation for these winter sports to succeed, and apps such as Remind kept communication going when changes were often abrupt and announcements frequent. Similar to other sports such as soccer, swimmers were required to fill out a Covid-19 form and describe any concerning health symptoms before every meet.
To make up for canceled practices, virtual workouts were held, but these were not the only notable changes.
“Meets were the most different; we never got to see the team we were competing against and only got our scores days after. In this way, it was easy to lose morale. However, all the team members were extremely motivated, resulting in countless new personal and school records,” Gabane said. Her most memorable moment of this season was the captains’ practice at the end of the season, where she and the other three captains made sets and participated in interactive relays. Some of the other schools that participated in the county included South Plainfield High School and Metuchen High School. Every team played a part in ensuring a memorable swim season for 2021.