As the clock ticks close to 3 p.m, Cassandra Jansen prepares to leave for swim practice. For her, this has always included packing a towel, suit, and goggles into her gym bag, before making her way to the pool. This year for Jansen, preparing also includes creating the warmup, drills, and exercises for the day. Jansen, the lone senior and captain of the women’s swim team at SUNY Brockport, is just one of many students in winter teams trying to make something out of this year’s season.
“Swimming has always been like a mental break from school, work, and other life stresses.” said Jansen. “So not having that made me feel like I didn’t have a way to take a break.”
While there are many teams that have also been struggling to keep members active without regular practice or competition, the swim team was hit twice as hard when the team’s coach, Jason Morini, resigned in April of last year. As the school has postponed finding a permanent coach for the time being due to the pandemic, the leaders of the team have been struggling to hold the team together.
“It’s very frustrating not having a coach. A lot of people came here for Jay and not only is he not here, but there is no coach here. It made the captains take on a lot of the workload a coach or assistant coach would normally complete” said Jansen.
Logan Gregory, captain and also the only senior on the men’s swim team, said the hiring process for the next coach was “Pathetic”.
“Seems like our athletic department is able to figure out a way to get stuff done for other sports besides us. Took them long enough just to get us in the water.”
SUNY Brockport had a few reasons for allowing spring sports to continue during the pandemic but not allowing winter sports. Susan Hoffman, the associate athletic Director, had this to say as to why winter sports couldn’t practice regularly.
“All research and information that we know about the Covid Virus is that it is very contagious when you are indoors.” said Hoffman.
“Because of that, there was really no way we were going to be able to allow a lot of practices. With spring sports, they’re all outdoors, so there is much less risk of spread.”
While the team had chances to practice during the winter, those practices were split into small groups, without the team ever having a chance to fully meet. Along with that, the practices were often cancelled due to the increasing prevalence of Covid during the winter. Jansen says that the most upsetting part was the loss of competitions.
“It sucks to lose my last season of competition. In high school I never had a real team, so I didn’t get signs, a senior meet, or any sort of recognition. That was something I was really looking forward to in college, but I lost all of those too.” said Jansen.
Gregory also felt disappointed with having his swim career cut short so unexpectedly.
“It was a big bummer. Felt like I had been building up to this moment forever and just like that it’s gone.”
While the team didn’t get a chance to practice consistently in the winter, since restrictions have relaxed across the school the team has been able to practice again. While the two still happily take the extra work from a lack of a coach, they wonder if they would’ve done things differently if they had known their senior season would happen like this.
“It makes me look back on previous seasons with some regret.” said Jansen.
“Almost like if I had known it would be my last time competing, I would have worked harder, or tried more, or enjoyed everything.”