On Nov. 7, Montclair State University’s swimming team competed in their first meet of the 2020-21 season. It was extremely different than what the Red Hawks are used to, since the entire meet was virtual and took place in three different states, against the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, but still went down as the first virtually-held swim meet in Montclair State history.
Though the season typically starts in October, with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still looming, the swimmers found themselves starting the season a month later. This was the first competitive sporting event for a Montclair State team since the softball team played on March 13.
Red Hawks’ swimming head coach, Brian McLaughlin, says that it feels great to be able to participate again.
“I’m glad we were able to pull this off and actually compete,” McLaughlin said. “The Coast Guard Academy and Merchant Marine Academy I think, just like us, were just thrilled to actually swim and compete.”
In addition to no team points, diving was not scored during the meet. Virtual meets are taking place all over the country, however, they are not sanctioned by the NCAA. The meet style was also short: 11 races and two rounds of diving, coming out to 13 events in total.
A pair of Red Hawk junior swimmers performed well in the distance races. Taylor Waddleton had the top Montclair State time for the women’s 1000 freestyle and 500 freestyle. Tyler Dorsett had the top time in the men’s 500 freestyle. These upperclassmen essentially looked like leaders for the team, who both had at least one freshman in each event.
For the people at home, it must have been easy to forget the fact that there were no fans at the event, considering how outspoken and supportive teammates were on the sidelines. One of the commentators during the meet was swimmer, Amanda Chiappetta, who explained how vital it was to get that motivation from teammates now that they have no fans present to do it for them.
“Without fans and no opponents, the teammates need to make sure they help the swimmers as much as they can,” Chiappetta said. “When the swimmers are racing each other and no fans are in the stands, it is hard to keep pushing and that’s where the coaches and teammates really need to be there to help push one another.”
In the first meet of her collegiate career, freshman Lidia Boguslawska stood out among the competition. Even in an unusual setting, which could intimidate anyone, Boguslawska knew what she needed to do and she competed to the best of her abilities.
“This season is still up in the air, so everything I do [from] here on out is to get ready for next season, or just [to] be ready when it matters,” Boguslawska said.
Since virtual meets are not sanctioned by the NCAA, no team points were accounted for. Still, events like this are happening all over the country in order to get the athletes back in a competitive mindset.
While the team is still taking things slow, McLaughlin looks forward to being able to compete regularly again.
“We are going to shut down before Thanksgiving and regroup after Christmas,” McLaughlin said. “We are just taking the season one day at a time. I’m just hoping the country can get back together and we can continue to compete.”
The team is going to be taking about five weeks off, as they are set to compete against Ramapo College on Jan. 16, 2021.