“I’ll Never Forget The Feeling I Had When I Found Out That My Swimming Season Was Over”

The Delta State women’s swim team, including Wheatley’s Maddy Lavoie (front row, centre)

By Maddy Lavoie

I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I found out that my swimming season was over.

My team and I had travelled to Geneva, Ohio for the NCAA Division 2 swimming and diving competition.
This was the meet that we trained all year for, starting at the end of August. This was the meet where
we could place nationally and represent our schools. I had a busy schedule with swimming 1-2 events
each day for the 4-day meet. I competed on the first day swimming 200 IM and 200 medley relay.

Swimming in prelims was exhilarating, competing against the best competition in the country in our
division. Our relay team qualified for finals that night and we were pumped. I was excited to qualify for
finals with my best races still ahead of me. The energy of the team was high following that prelims
session as we headed back to the hotel to rest before finals that night. When we went to the pool that
night for finals, there was a lot of talk about corona virus. The NCAA made the call that no spectators
would be allowed for the remainder of the meet. My heart was broken as my dad had travelled to the
meet to watch me compete and my mom was meeting him there later in the competition. I felt like a
sense of accomplishment was taken away from me. Yes, it was amazing to qualify for the meet, but I
also wanted to perform well and showcase all of my hard work from the season in front of my family. It
seemed like a shadow was cast over the athletes on the pool deck, as everyone was disappointed that
their family who travelled far distances could not watch the meet.

The next morning we headed to the pool for prelims on the second day of competition. The stands were
empty and there was a lack of energy on the pool deck. The deck was quieter and there was less
excitement without an audience. I swam the 400 medley relay with my team that morning and we had
qualified for finals. I was super excited to be able to swim that night in finals and represent my school. I
was also looking forward to competing in my best races, 100 and 200 breaststroke, that was scheduled
for the following 2 days. My team had qualified multiple swims for finals that night and we were ready
to compete.

It was before finals that our coaches gathered us in the lobby of the hotel and broke the news. It was
completely silent as no one knew what to say. We were all devastated and were at a loss for words. It
felt like a part of our hearts had been ripped out. We had been robbed of the hard work that we had put
in all season. My heart goes out to all of the seniors who had their final memories of college swimming
taken away. I mourned for my team that still had events to compete and never got to show the world
what they were capable of. My heart hurts for all of the athletes at this meet who made sacrifices to get
to NCAA, no matter what school they are from. My heart hurts for all of the parents, family, and friends
that came to watch, but was no longer allowed to after the first day of the meet.

It has taken me a while to fully reflect on everything that has happened without feeling angry or sad
about how my season ended. I keep thinking about all of the 5 AM morning practices and gruelling
work-outs that I did all season for the races I never even got to swim. I do not blame the NCAA for
cancelling the meet half-way through. I think that it is sad that some people lost their dreams and never
got the finish to a season or their swimming career that they planned on having. I think that the NCAA
made the right decision to keep everyone safe. I think it is necessary to make sacrifices like this in order
to keep everyone safe and healthy.

While training facilities are currently closed, I think it is important for all athletes to remember their
goals and dreams. Visualization and home work-outs will be crucial to keep an athlete ready to compete
once training facilities are open again. Nobody has to give up on their goals during this time; we just
have to find a different way to get there. Spread good vibes and keep sanitizing.

We can do this together.

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    Roger Dundas 4 years

    Excellent description of the athlete’s point of view.