For ASU women's swimming and diving team, getting back into the pool meant everything after a season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its first meet since the 2020 Pac-12 Championships, ASU defeated Washington State University, 157-105. For the majority of the team, it was their first-ever collegiate meet together.
"It was great to be back competing in a collegiate meet after such a long break," associate head coach Rachel Stratton-Mills said in a press release on Saturday. "The team raced hard today and learned some valuable lessons on how to race in a dual-meet setting."
Many swimmers like redshirt sophomore Lindsay Looney did not get a chance to have a normal athletic year after the 2019-20 season.
"I think I was super grateful to even experience a freshman year and be able to, you know, know the rules around the deck of some of the swim and dive team and be able to leave with the people who came in after me and try to act as an idol to them and lead them was really good," Looney said. "But I mean going back to the pandemic, experiencing that I think helped me realize how important mental health is, especially in athletes."
Freshman Charli Brown was due to join the Sun Devils in January 2020 but, because of the cancellation of the 2020-21 season and the pandemic, did not come until the summer.
"Before, I was originally meant to come in 2020 in January, but that got pushed back because of like the redshirting and corona and stuff," Brown said. "I'm really fortunate to be here actually because Australia has been in lockdown. Sydney has been impacted so hard."
With 13 redshirt freshmen and true freshmen on the roster for the 2021-22 season, head coach Bob Bowman believes the team has to learn what it's like to compete at a collegiate level meet.
"A lot of the invitational meets they go to when they're younger, you have lots of hours between the events," Bowman said. "So everything's kind of done in a fresh state. So here, you have to keep going, even when you're tired, even when you have lactic acid buildup. It's just a great lesson for them to learn what it's (collegiate meets) going to be like."
Brown echoed a similar sentiment to having to learn new skills and techniques from the coaching staff.
"They're always stressing the importance of skills, something I'm still getting used to because back in Sydney, I trained in a mainly 50-meter pool," Brown said. "So coming here and having all these extra turns or the extra underwater kicks is definitely something that is pushing myself to like a new level and the team as well."
Stratton-Mills said in the press release Saturday that she was "very encouraged" by the redshirt and true freshman on the roster and that "Riley Lexvold, Iza Adame and Charli Brown all won events in their first meet as a Sun Devil, which shows great promise for the future of the team."
ASU women's swimming and diving will compete next on Friday, Nov. 5 against UCLA in Tempe.
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