Perhaps it is the night before a swim meet that Ella Griswold likes the most about being on the Bend High swim team.
The swimmers typically gather at a teammate’s house and load up on carbs to prepare for the next day of racing.
At these “pasta feeds” teammates like to share interesting facts about one another and play silly games to build team comradery.
In a shortened high school sports year, the plates of pasta were put on the shelf, but the swimming has continued.
“It has still been really fun,” said Griswold, who just finished her junior year and also runs track and cross-country for the Lava Bears. “Swimming is my favorite so I was really excited when we finally got word that there was going to be a season, even if it was only going to be for a couple of weeks.”
The three Bend high schools have finished three of their four meets of the final high school season of the 2020-21 school year.
And as has been the case for all sports in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a year that did not resemble the previous swimming seasons.
Of the four meets, only two were equipped with time boards to track the swimmer’s time to determine team scores.
The other two, like the meet Saturday afternoon, are casual meets where the races were co-ed, scores and times were not tracked in an official capacity.
Just as there is no district meet, there is also no state meet during the Season 4 Culminating Week. The absence of the roof over the pool at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center proved just that.
To Griswold, a less competitive season in the pool was a welcoming change of pace to the typical winter season. And fewer days in the pool’s chlorine water meant fewer days of dry skin.
“Meets are where I get to challenge myself and that is great and it is important to do stuff that makes you feel uncomfortable,” she said. “It is really nice not to have to worry about it as much. It’s so nice out, usually it is freezing and we have the covers over the pool. It is actually kinda nice this way.”
Through the fall and winter months, there was a lot of uncertainty if the swim season would even happen. Being an indoor sport, there were restrictions on pool usage during the pandemic. There was a feeling that there would be a season, but it kept getting pushed back.
The Lava Bear program’s numbers took a hit with the shake up of the season, moving the traditional winter sport into the late spring and overlapping with the beginning of summer vacation and the obligations that come with it.
“This season will go down with a huge asterisk next to it,” said Lava Bear coach Jesse Hatch. “The goal this year was getting them back in the pool, getting them reengaged with athletics. It is a weird time and a weird year for everything.”
Once the coaching staff got the green light to start practicing again to gear up to the season, the priority became less about improving times and more about getting people back in the pool and enjoying the sport and being with the team.
“It has been challenging,” said Hatch. “It has really been about getting people together and having fun. That has been the focus, rekindling the love for team sports.”
Saturday, June 26 will be the final City Meet of the season at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center. It will be one of the two meets where official times are kept for the races.