The Elk River and Rogers girls swimming team are competing this season, but COVID-19 will make it one of the most unusual seasons in recent memory.
For the first three meets of the season, the Elks will be competing in virtual score exchanges with the other team. However, the Elks hope to compete in normal meets for the rest of the regular season unless COVID-19 numbers increase.
Elks head coach Stacie Brown said it is more challenging for Elk River to compete in a virtual setting against other teams without the other team in person.
“We do our best to create a meet like atmosphere for the girls, but it is much more difficult to get as excited for a race when their competitor is not swimming in the lane next to them,” Brown said. “That being said, I am impressed with their ability to use their teammates as motivation to swim their best races in the given circumstances.”
A virtual meet has the same structure as a regular meet. The schedule of events and the way they are scored remains the same as they did in 2019-20 and previous seasons. There are still 24 events: 12 junior varsity and 12 varsity. 11 events are swimming, such as the 400-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke, with the one-meter diving competition in between.
The Elks opened the season on Sept. 3 against Blaine. The Bengals defeated the Elks 92-84.
After each meet, the scores are then calculated by Coon Rapids girls swimming head coach Doug Donaldson, who is the statistician for the Northwest Suburban Conference. Once all meets have been completed, Donaldson scores each meet and sends the scores to all of the coaches.
Brown said she doesn’t need to do much to keep the Elks motivated this season.
"They are very good at keeping themselves motivated,” she said. “They are excited to be back to a little bit of normal by being back in the pool and back with their teammates. Being isolated for most of this year is difficult for everyone, now that they are able to be with their friends and teammates again their attitudes have greatly improved.”
The Elks have not won a Section 8-4A regular-season title since the 2005-06 season. However, Brown said her goal is for everyone to stay healthy. She doesn’t know if this season will be completed.
"Honestly, my goals for this season is for everyone to stay healthy while being able to complete our season,” Brown said. “In a normal season, I would have goals in regards to winning meets or qualifying athletes for the state competition, but this season is unlike any other. We do not know if we will be able to finish the season. We do not know if there will be a section meet. We don't know so many things. This season is all about flexibility and adapting to changes as they are made.”
The Rogers girls swim team competed in its last virtual meet of the season on Sept. 10 against Osseo. The Orioles defeated the Royals 95-89. The Royals will face Coon Rapids on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at VandenBerge Middle School in their first in-person meet of the season. The Royals senior class will be honored after the meet.