WISCASSET — For the past 10 months, people all around the world have adapted to doing more things virtually. Whether it’s been working from home, or having to go to school via zoom, society has changed in some way virtually.

Now, high school swim teams are doing the same thing, holding virtual swim meets, replacing the usual in-person meets during the season.

Because of the state imposed 50-person indoor limit, schools will not be traveling to an opposing school’s pool to compete in a meet. Instead, they will be holding virtual meets from their home pool. The opposing team must hold their end of the meet within 48 hours of the other, according to the Maine Principals’ Association guidelines. Scores are tallied once both meets come to a conclusion to determine a winner. 

The Eagles had to change their home pool this season. They normally swim at Leroy Greason Pool on the campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, but were forced to drive 20 miles north on Route 1 to Wiscasset, due to the Bowdoin campus remaining closed to the public. 

The Mt. Ararat swim team competes Thursday at the Wiscasset Community Center in Wiscasset. They took on Cony in a virtual meet. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

Cony was set to hold their portion of the race simultaneously at their home pool, the Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta.

Mt. Ararat coach Tracy Boucher welcomes the idea of virtual meets if it means her swimmers are able to compete against different schools rather than intrasquad competition.

“We are all so grateful we get to do this. While it may look a little different, I know my team is ready for the opportunity to have some sort of competition,” Boucher said. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this day to come, I told them to embrace it tonight because we never know what may lie ahead for us.

For the swimmers, it’s most certainly a different environment. While it may take some getting used to, senior Sam Wright was ready to roll.

“It’s more of a mental game now, but I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” Wright said. “I’m just looking to get better at what I do everytime I get into the pool.”

Normally, swimmers thrive off the competition, as is natural in sports. This year, swimmers will have to find a different source of motivation in the heat of the race. 

Senior Cora Spelke, who has committed to swim at Amherst College next winter, realizes it will be a different challenge not having the other team at the venue during the meet.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot harder to not have my competitor next to me, but I have other ways of motivating myself,” Spelke said, who broke the 200 freestyle school record, marking a time of 2:03.06. “It’ll be nice to race as a team together and bond in that sort of way.”

The Mt. Ararat Eagles kick off their virtual season with the 200 free on Thursday at the Wiscasset Community Center in Wiscasset. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

While it’s a different setting than usual for the swimmers, it’s also a big change for the coaches, who have had to adjust the way they coach during the meet. 

Boucher and Eagles co-head coach Steve Butts recognize that meets have a different feel this season, but are looking to do everything they can to make it seem as normal as possible for the swimmers and their approach to the race. 

“It’s going to be a change for all of us, but my swimmers have taken everything they’ve been given and ran with it,” Boucher said.

The Eagles are looking forward to continuing competition, and are hoping some sort of postseason can be held virtually. 

“We’re hoping to have some sort of season-ending virtual meet with the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference (KVAC), but that’s obviously a long way off,” added Boucher.

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