Osseo prep swimmers, divers adjusting to virtual competitions

The Osseo High School swimming and diving captains enjoy a lighter moment during a recent practice. From left, are Marina Mascarenas, Amber Croonquist and Kaity McGee. Not pictured is diving captain Savanna Dickey. (Submitted photo)

Like most high school athletes, swimming and diving teams have had to adjust to the times. The summer brought times of uncertainty if there would be a season — and if there was, what would it look like?

For high school athletes in swimming and diving, the season thus far has been a little normal mixed with a lot of abnormal. The normal is practicing with teammates with the goal of peaking at season’s end. The abnormal is competing without an actual opponent in the adjacent lane.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, teams in the metro began their season with “virtual competitions.” That means the competitors swim their normal races, times are recorded and are compared with the opposition. But, their opponents are in a different pool. It’s all part of what is an unprecedented season for both amateur and professional athletes.

Inconveniences aside, the athletes seem happy to have the chance to have a season in any form, though hope remains for in-person dual meets this week providing COVID-19-related complications are avoided.

“When I found out we were going to be able to compete this season, I was overly excited,” Osseo senior Maria Mascarenas said. “After all the uncertainty that I had experienced over the past few months, I was excited to know that I would be able to have a sliver of normalcy in my life. Our practices are different, but the hassle is worth it. We put our masks in bags, we have blue X’s on the bleachers, and we have command hooks on the wall to separate our equipment bags. Each time we arrive at the pool, our temperature is taken. There are two or fewer people in each lane. Although many of our past habits are not in place, we have practiced patience to continue doing what we love.”

ADJUSTMENTS ARE CONSTANT

Senior Kaity McGee agrees that having a season is a blessing while recognizing it’s not the same.

“I was very excited but at the same time nervous to see what it would look like,” McGee said. “Practice has been difficult to get used to. Putting on a mask while being wet has been strange but the girls have been so great about keeping the spirits high during this hard time.”

“I was ecstatic when I found out we’d have a season, especially since I’m a senior,” Osseo’s Amber Croonquist said. I am very thankful that we have the opportunity to have this swim season during this difficult time, and I know it could change at any moment if people don’t take this seriously. I am glad I have the chance to lead my team as a captain this year, and though it will be a different season, I will do the best I can.”

Jagger’s job is to keep her team stay positive through the adversity.

“The girls have been adapting well to all the changes this year due to COVID,” Jagger said. “They have been working hard and it is paying off with some great races.”

The Orioles had several solid performances in Thursday’s virtual meet with Rogers, getting first-place performances from seventh-grader Faith Laman in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, senior Amber Croonquist in the 200 individual medley, and first- and second-place finishes, respectively, from freshman Abby Ahlquist and senior Savanna Dickey in diving. Osseo also had first-place efforts from senior Amber Croonquist in the 100 butterfly, junior Maddie Thom in the 100 freestyle, and freshman Alexis Horn in the 100 breaststroke. Thom’s time of 5915 seconds in the 100 freestyle beat her personal-best by almost a second, and Horn placed second in that event. Lamah and Maddy Ahlquist also placed first and second, respectively, in the 500 freestyle.

Osseo’s 200 freestyle relay team of Amber Croonquist, Horn, Olyvia Legatt and Dickey placed first with a time of 1:49.80, and the 400 freestyle relay team of Lamah, Thom, Emily Kersting and Amber Croonquist also took top honors with a time of 3:58.16.

“It’s odd (competing in a virtual meet), but not horrible,” Croonquist said. “A challenge includes having to wear masks before and after racing. It can be hard to breathe when wearing them and being wet. For me, it isn’t too tough to compete against myself because. I do enjoy racing against an actual team though.

“This is my senior season, my last ride, and my final chance to compete,” Mascarenas said. “I hope to end the season as normal as possible and leave high school swimming on a positive note.”

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