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After a yearlong hiatus, ASU swim and dive is eager to get back in the pool

The men's and women's swim and dive teams have not competed since the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Erica Lang Swim.jpg

Now-graduate student Erica Laning swims the women’s 200-meter freestyle during an intra-team scrimmage on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Complex in Tempe.

After a canceled 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASU men's and women's swim and dive teams are ready to get back into the pool. 

This season comes after a yearlong hiatus, as all the athletes were redshirted and the team didn't compete in any official meets. However, the team didn’t allow the lack of NCAA competition to keep it from staying in competition shape. 

“We were looking kind of long term, like what will make us the team we want to be in 2021 and 2022,” head swim coach Bob Bowman said. 

Nothing about the practice schedule changed for the swim team throughout the 2020-21 season, staying at nine practices a week, Bowman said. The lack of meets last year did not hinder the team's priority to get ready for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trials.

Preparing for sports' most prolific competition required swimmers to stay in both physical and competitive shape. Some members of the team had not yet competed in an NCAA meet, and they used that, along with the prospect of Olympic Trials, as fuel to remain competitive.

“A lot of us felt like we missed out on a lot of the competitions, so it made us a lot hungrier for the season,” redshirt senior Carter Swift said.

Senior Lilia Smith said it really helps to have the fifth-year seniors on the team as the upperclassmen have played a key role in getting the underclassmen into meet shape. 

However, last year’s training did not come without its challenges. The athletes and coaches took new perspectives, both mentally and physically, in regard to their sport; they faced adversities they never thought they would face.

Smith said she “hit rock bottom” last year and thought about quitting the team. Now, she will approach her senior year differently.

“Mentally, it was a tough, grueling year,” Smith said. “Moving onto this year, I’ve had a totally different outlook on my season, and for me, the most important thing is my mental health."

Swift, who is from Australia, has not had in-person family support at his meets for the past three years, and he was unable to return home last year. He lost out on major opportunities such as the 2021 Australian Olympic trials and is now aiming for the 2024 Olympic trials.

“It’s comforting knowing that I have such a high performance team to be with,” Swift said. “It made it easier, knowing that I have everyone to lean back on. It’s like a family over here.”

Like the swimmers, Bowman took on a new perspective after the lost season as the team could not practice from March to August 2020. 

“It gave me a lot of time to think about how we go about it and how much I love doing it when we get back,”  Bowman said.

The men's and women's teams will open up their respective seasons on Nov. 6 in Tempe against USC and on Oct. 16 at Washington State. 

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Shane BrennanPolitics Reporter

Shane Brennan is a politics reporter at State Press. He also works for Cronkite News and Blaze Radio.

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