Swimming through the pandemic

Swimming through the pandemic

by Arianna P.

Wearing masks while in the water is not safe, nor necessary, so how have divers been affected by this pandemic? 

Tierney R, 17, is a junior at Duxbury High School, and a long time diver. As a member of the Duxbury High School diving team, as well as the South Shore Diving Club, Tierney has traveled—and competed—nationally. Among the four years Tierney has been diving, she has experienced many different challenges, but nothing compared to living through a pandemic. 

Tierney explained how in diving practices, the use of masks are only required when waiting in line.

“When it is your turn to step onto the board, you may remove your mask and place it to the side,” said Tierney.  

Coaches have put into place plans that promote the flow of the athletes moving in different places, so there aren’t crowds forming together. The coaches create stations for a specific number of athlete’s to go for a certain amount of time. Implementing this into their practice plans allows for minimal contact and tracing. 

One of Tierney’s biggest setbacks for her team and herself is the lack of practice time.

“I used to practice Sunday through Thursday, and now I only practice Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.”

The decrease in practice hours has impacted Tierney and her plans for the future. Along with the limited practice time, the team is unable to travel to Umass Dartmouth for their practices. The Percy Walker Pool in Duxbury holds only a singular 1 meter diving board. The advantage of going to Umass Dartmouth was the use of the 1, 2, and 3 meter boards. 

“We really miss the 3 meter board because it is important for college and getting bigger dives,” said Tierney. 

The difference between the 3 meter board and the 1 meter board is the height. The 3 meter board allows the athletes to work on their harder and more intricate skills. Without the advantage of using the 3 meter board athletes this season have been limited to the new and improved skills they can execute. This means that the skills that require a higher board, can not be done. The loss of this 3 meter board is impacting Tierney’s future and her skills this season. Without the option of the 3 meter board Tierney has experienced limitations on improving her dives. Since she can not perform some of these skills that require a 3 meter board, this can affect the colleges and scholarships she can gain. 

With this season not allowing for the team to go to Dartmouth, they have been limited to their one diving board at the Percy Walker Pool. Being a part of the diving program this year has required the athletes along with their families to have patience, and dedication.  These families have had to be patient with the uncertain practice schedules, contact tracing issues, and just overall differences in the season including practices and meets. The necessary guidelines put into place for the diver’s has restricted their growth, and success. 

Although this has been a tough year Tierney has participated in interviews with diving coaches from Boston College, Providence College, Towson University, and a few more. These interviews take place over zoom, and email. These interviews are put in place by either the diving coach reaching out to Tierney, or Tierney reaching out to them. After communicating with each other over email they set up a time and date to meet over zoom, or phone call. These phone calls consist of talk about how their season is going, new accomplishments, grades, and basic introductions. 

 Athletes that are on the diving team in Duxbury are still gaining interviews and offers from colleges. Considering the restraint the pandemic has put on the sport of diving, Tierney feels that herself along with her teammates have made it work by staying positive and motivated. The ways the team help each other are by cheering for and encouraging each other while diving, and also just staying in communication and checking in on each other.

With the season having ended in February, the team feels more united because of the challenges they faced and overcame over the course of the year. The obstacles of limited practice time, only one board, staying safe, and implementing mask usage, have all taught the divers a huge lesson. The lesson they learned was that you can overcome anything when you put your mind to it and stay dedicated and patient. 

Since Tierney is on two different dive teams, she has experienced this situation through two programs. On the South Shore Diving Club, the athletes get much more attention and more professional coaching. The one on one coaching aspect is valued in club dive very much and the coaches make sure to give their time to each athlete. Whereas high school dive, the whole dynamic is very different. 

“High school dive is sort of for fun, it doesn’t have much pressure.”

Tierney does high school dive as an outlet for doing her sport, but having a more relaxed and fun environment. Although club dive is fun, it is much more intense and requires a higher amount of dedication and hardwork.

Overall, Tierney has remained successful and at the top ranks in her competitions throughout the year. Diving has received a lot of drawbacks due to the pandemic. But, the safety measures that have been put into action have not ruined their seasons, and Tierney will continue to learn how to navigate through the pandemic day by day along with her team. 

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