Single lane motivation


Charlotte Abramson

The pool remains calm in between practices sessions.

Charlotte Abramson, Features Editor

The building echoes with sounds of splashing, bodies moving at high speeds within the water and the smell of chlorine permeates the air. Standing at the edge of the pool littered with water bottles and kickboards, the coach surveys his swimmers as they embrace the new challenges this year brings.  

The Linfield swim team has just begun their season, but it’s looking a little different this year. Masks are required for everyone on deck, including swimmers when they’re out of the pool, and strict social distancing is enforced, meaning only two athletes are allowed per lane.

Swim coach and aquatics director Kyle Kimball, who just started his seventh season coaching at Linfield and has another 24 years under his belt, has taken a series of different approaches to planning the daily workouts. The current team of 49 swimmers has been split into three training sessions at two hours a piece, with dryland training integrated as much as possible. Although it’s made training his team difficult, Kimball walks the pool deck with an upbeat outlook. 

“We’re taking the first couple weeks trying to be happy, happy that we’re here, happy that we’re practicing, and just trying to make a positive out of all the negatives,” he said.

Swimming itself is an incredibly demanding sport, both physically and mentally, with a lot of that pressure resting individually on the swimmer’s shoulders. Long, grueling practices are made easier and more enjoyable by having time on the wall in between sets with teammates. However, this is no longer the case. With only two swimmers per lane, sets are arranged so there is only one swimmer on each wall at a time. 

For some, this is an opportunity for more focused training. 

“Once our season is up and running, we will cater workouts individually,” Kimball said. “It’s definitely the aspect of this whole thing I’ve looked forward to the most.” 

The swimmers are also finding the distance between them and their teammates motivating. 

Claudia Veile, a sophomore at Linfield, has been swimming competitively since she was seven years old. With pools being closed because of COVID, this break has been the longest she’s ever been out of the pool. “I feel a lot of motivation just getting back into the water and I’m very okay with the protocols,” Veile said. “It’s nice having one on one time with Kyle and just more space in the lane in general.” 

The swimmers and Coach Kimball recognize that safety is of the utmost importance. When on the pool deck doing dryland workouts, swimmers wear masks and everything touched is wiped down. But with safety comes the loss of major team building and bonding, as well as swim meets.

In a usual season, one would find the team traveling often to meets, as well as winter training in Hawaii and a big travel meet in Las Vegas in December. However, like all Linfield sports, meets have been canceled and postponed until at least Jan. 1. The NCAA Championships, held at the end of March, have yet to be determined as well.

Coach Kimball plans on holding intersquad meets a couple times if possible, and the team has been addressing their own socially distanced bonding. 

Daisuke Fatial, team captain and a senior at Linfield this fall, has been swimming competitively for 16 years. “We’ve been trying to do team bonding activities outside of the pool to get to know each other,” he said. “It’s hard to keep everyone motivated but we’re staying in contact through Zoom and we’re messaging everyone.”

With 114 practice days to use and spirits high during these unprecedented times, Kimball is confident that regardless of whether or not competitions occur this year, they will still have as much of a normal season as possible. 

“We’re a strong team, one of the best teams in the conference. That’s the motivation we keep with,” Kimball said.