Finishing Strokes

Two wins into the season, the Girls’ Swimming and Diving Team looks to add a third today against Pine-Richland.

Maddie Harris, Staff Writer

Athletics at North Allegheny are not to be taken lightly, as the competitive spirit and determination of North Allegheny’s student athletes are shown in games and meets throughout the district. The dedication these students put into their sports is enormous and undoubtedly the key to success. With fall sports coming to a close, many winter sports are getting into action, such as the North Allegheny Swimming and Diving Team. From the months of November through March, the swimmers and divers compete all around the area, training day and night in order to achieve their sought out victories in the water.

However, this year in particular, has proven to be difficult in the aspect of training, due to the pandemic. With practices being cancelled and meets postponed, the season is a few steps behind where it would normally be this time of year. With all of this uncertainty in the air, it is difficult to judge the outcome of the season, but this will not stop the swimmers and divers from working hard. 


photo courtesy of NA Swimming and Diving

Due to new guidelines being released, the team had to take a three-week break over the holiday’s; no training in or out of the pool. The holiday break was when practices are normally ramped up in intensity, so losing this valuable practice time set the team back behind where they would like to be. Now, however, they have returned to the water and are preparing for upcoming meets, whenever and wherever they may be.

Seniors Lily Courville and Molly Smyers shared their experiences so far with their season amidst the pandemic and the regulations at hand. 

“The pandemic has changed a lot about our swim season,” Courville said. “For starters, it’s much more difficult to make the WPIAL Championship this year– the cuts became a lot faster in order to limit the amount of people at the WPIAL meet for safety reasons. The WPIAL meet is what we are working towards for the whole season, so that’s a huge change for everyone. We weren’t able to attend a couple of travel meets this year, which was a disappointment to many because they’re always really fun. Practices have been changed, meets have been changed, dryland has been changed, and so much more– our season was basically flipped on its head.”

photo courtesy of NA Swimming and Diving

With all of the changes and uncertainty of the season, it can be hard to stay motivated when there isn’t a visible finish line in sight. However, Smyers explained how the team is able to push through these obstacles.

“Everyone on the team is always pushing each other, which makes us stronger at the end of the day. Everyone is just pushing through and hoping we will get our end of season meets,” she said.

Courville also expressed the importance of the team coming together and pushing through, despite the challenges at hand.

“I can see how it would be hard to stay motivated when the season is so up-in-the-air, but the constant encouragement, support, and friendship of the team around me keeps me driven during this uncertain time,” she said. “Our coach, Patrick Wenzel, has said many times that this season is about ‘being flexible’ and just doing our best with what we are given, which I completely agree with. It’s my senior year, after all, so I may as well enjoy it as much as possible– despite the poor circumstances of the pandemic.”

The team has unfortunately lost a lot of valuable practice time over the past few weeks, including a couple of their scheduled meets. Now back in the water, the swimmers train in the  mornings as well as the afternoons, preparing themselves for the meets to come. Although practices have been cut short, Smyers is still confident in the team’s performance abilities.

“Everyone on the team is strong mentally and physically, so we do not let obstacles like this get in our way. Everyone is still training hard and swimming fast,” she said.

photo courtesy of NA Swimming and Diving

This season will be the last of four for both Smyers and Courville. Dealing with the changing nature of the pandemic on top of the competitive swim season is not ideal, but the two swimmers are still looking forward to many things to come from this season.

“Even though they aren’t the same, I still look forward to the meets,” Smyers said. “Masks and social distancing or not, it’s fun to watch the team race, swim fast, and cheer each other on.”

“I’m really looking forward to having our senior night,” said Courville. “It is something that I have dreamed about many times as I watched the previous couple of senior classes graduate each year. I am excited to see my fellow seniors and myself get recognized for our efforts over the past 4 years.” 

Since being permitted to compete again, the swimmers and divers have competed against both Hampton High School and Butler High School, securing a win at both meets. The team will compete against Pine-Richland later today, hoping to bring home their third win for the season.