During Purdue swimming’s intra-squad meet on Friday, it was evident that the swimmers were just excited to be racing again.
In a normal season, swimmers would have done several dual meets prior to the intra-squad one. But an atypical beginning to the season is but another adjustment for a team that has made several this season due to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols.
These include starting practices at opposite ends of the lanes, not congregating too closely on deck, doing strength training in smaller groups, wearing masks on deck and not being able to interact with recruits in person. The biggest change this season, however, has been integrating the freshmen.
“Normally we’d be doing stuff together every weekend and during the week,” senior Riley Kishman said.
Every week they have team meetings over Zoom, and they’ll do activities like “20 questions” in order for the freshmen to get to know the upperclassmen better.
“It’s hard, because we obviously have more than 10 people on our team. So we can’t really get together,” senior Natalie Myers said.
Myers and Kishman both spoke to setting performance goals during an atypical season. Normally they would go into the season having practiced through the summer and add on to that training in the fall. That didn’t happen this year.
“My focus is to have fun,” Myers said. “I’m just trying not to take anything too seriously, because it’s not even a given.”
Senior Trent Pellini and junior Nick Sherman of the Men’s Swimming & Diving Team were both NCAA qualifiers during the 2019-20 season. They both qualified for the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke along with the 200-yard individual medley.
The NCAA meet, scheduled for March, was canceled because of the coronavirus.
“(This season) I want to prove Purdue can put together some medley and free relays to be up there with the top five guys in the country, and then individually (I) would love to chase down a NCAA title,” Pellini said.
Despite the uncertainty of this season, Pellini and Sherman want to keep the momentum going.
“We’re trying to keep it as a habit, like it was before, that way we don’t psych ourselves out,” Sherman said.
Regarding the schedule for the rest of the season, the Big Ten aims to start allowing the scheduling of dual meets in mid-January and plans to hold both the Big Ten Championship and NCAA Championship meets. The dates for those competitions have not yet been announced.
“Even though it is different, we’re just super grateful that we can even have the opportunity to practice. Because other Big Ten teams haven’t been so lucky,” Myers said. “We’re just all super grateful that we can still even be in the water.”
Friday’s meet was closed to the public but was broadcast on television.
Standouts from the Women’s Swimming & Diving Team were junior Jade Knueppel, sophomore Sylvia Kobylak, senior Kelsey Macaddino, sophomore Lindsay Turner and junior Tessa Wrightson, who all won an individual event and participated in a winning relay. Kobylak won the 150-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:40.18 and 150-yard individual medley with a time of 1:35.10.
Standouts from the men were junior Nikola Aćin, sophomore Michael Juengel and freshman Jude Wenker, who all won an individual event and participated in a winning relay as well. Aćin won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle with times of 20.38 seconds and 45.36 seconds respectively.
“Today was a step in the right direction,” Pellini said, “being able to do intra-squad and getting everyone racing with the touch pads out.”