Swim Team Making a Difference During PandemicJan 29, 2021 04:34PM ● By Ken Hamway
This has been a tough stretch for high school athletes.
For the King Philip swim and dive team, a regular season would normally mean 8 to 10 swim meets plus practices. Right now, because of the pandemic, the team is in the middle of a shortened 4-meet season, and they are thankful for even that.
“We’re really lucky to even have a season,” acknowledged Pam Sullivan, the assistant coach. “So we’re trying to make it as fun as we can and worthwhile too, by giving back.”
Sullivan says the team is collecting groceries and bringing them to their early morning practices. The captains will then deliver the food to area food pantries. So far, the group has donated to Plainville’s food pantry but at Local Town Pages deadline, Sullivan anticipated more collections and deliveries, likely every other week, to other food pantries in the area.
The team practices at 5:30 a.m. at the Adirondack Club in Franklin. Practices now include fun competitions with small prizes for the winners to help keep morale up. Because of social distancing guidelines, half the team practices on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other half practices Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“The kids have been great even though they may not even get to see their friends at practice,” said Sullivan. “They have great attitudes and are making the best of the situation. They are amazing.”
COVID has also changed how meets are run. On January 7, the team competed against Mansfield at Wheaton College. The masked KP team watched the competition from the stands while the masked Mansfield team was on the pool deck. Parents are not allowed to attend.
“We can’t cheer at the meets, we can’t yell, so we just clap,” explained Sullivan, noting there won’t be any post-season competition, either.
Sullivan, who is in her first year as assistant coach under head coach Susan Antonellis, says the team has risen to the occasion despite all the challenges of the past year, and the captains have shown leadership during a very difficult time.
Giving back to the community by helping struggling area families has helped the athletes on the team cope by reminding them of others even less fortunate.
Sullivan added, “When they’re getting down, I remind them, you guys, we still have the season. And we’re so lucky we can make a difference for others, too.”