With pools closed due to COVID-19, the year-round Poulsbo Piranhas swim team took to the outdoors.
“The first change that we made when I came on board was getting into some open water swimming out at Wildcat Lake,” said coach Ron Allen, who took over in August.
After over a year of absence, the team returned to the pool at the North Kitsap Community Center Monday.
As the months got colder open water swimming became harder so in some instances the team had to travel as far as Fife to find a place that would allow the team to train and swim.
“Renting other facilities has really been the main part of this, plus doing some strength training with the Crossfit program in Poulsbo,” Allen said.
While being back in the pool at the North Kitsap Community Center will remove the stress of commuting to other locations, and allow for more practice time, it presents its own challenges in terms of training and keeping competitors safe.
“We still have to do a fair amount of social distancing. We’re limited to only have three competitors per lane, and that’s literally starting with someone in the middle of the pool being the third one, so it’s very interesting and challenging,” Allen said.
The Piranha’s also hope that the return to the pool will mean a return to competitions. Allen admitted that due to COVID the team lost some members, but hopes they will return.
One of the things that surprised Allen about this whole situation was how the lack of competition would impact the team.
“I knew it would impact those that were very competitive by nature, but on a whole team you have people that are there for very different reasons. Especially the younger kids, they may be there more for recreation, exercise and socialization,” Allen said. “Even with swim meets, if you have someone that’s not super into competition, they’re still hanging around their friends, and in a different environment where they get to be silly and fun with each other … They’ve been missing all of that.”
Due to the pandemic there are no swim meets planned at this time, but teams and coaches are coming up with ways to do virtual swim meets, among other ideas to host safe competitions.
“We’re planning intersquad meets and perhaps even like a virtual dual meet with another team from somewhere else,” Allen said.
Allen has spent time as a club swimming coach as well as 23 years as an National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II swim coach with over 100 NCAA All Americans.