Grady swim glides into the season


Courtesy of Susan Richardson

Sophomore Jory Richardson swims the 100 yard backstroke, an event she has the Grady record in.

Archer Streelman

With delays to the start of the Grady swim season due to pool availability and Covid-19 protocols, the swim season started much later than planned. Practice and tryouts started on Nov.13, but were originally scheduled for the week before Halloween.

In contrast with previous years, the team held tryouts during the first few days of practice to reduce the number of participants and to ensure social distancing. 

“We are used to having so many kids on the team, and we are able to fill up the lanes [during practice], but this year, we are not,” said head swim coach Adrienne Wesley, who has coached the team for four years. “With all the pools being closed, all the Atlanta Public Schools have to use the one pool, where before Grady only shared with one other school. We had a lot of time and a lot of space, and now we don’t have that liberty.” 

The swim team will be expected to follow social distancing rules recommended by APS. The protocols require swimmers to sign up to attend practice for contact tracing; year-round swimmers are asked to continue to practice with their club teams and will only compete in the meets; spectators are not allowed at meets or practices; dressing rooms are not available; and swimmers must leave immediately after practice.

“The meets are going to be super empty and quiet without parents in the stands,” sophomore Jory Richardson said.” “It will be very weird and different.”

Wesley says pool space has been difficult to find due to Covid-19. This year, practices are scheduled around meets and are held at the City of Atlanta pools or at the APS pool at King Middle School. 

“The phases are not open in the City of Atlanta, so that takes away our City of Atlanta pools, and that’s who we have our partnership with,” Wesley said. “APS does have one pool, and I’m not quite sure why that wasn’t ready [for tryouts]. We did not know until the day of tryouts, which was shocking and disappointing.”

Swim meets will be mostly dual meets, which means that two schools will swim against each other, to reduce the number of participants. In years past, APS teams would compete together in invitationals. The first meet will be held Dec. 3 against River Ridge.

“The important meets are still in play,” Wesley said. “Dual meets allow us the opportunity to make state cuts because they are very competitive and exciting. Swimmers usually do better in dual meets, and this year they are at some of the top schools that we contend with every year. ”

There are eight meets in the books this season, including the APS swim Championship(date TBD) and the GHSA state meet at Georgia Tech on Feb. 4- 6. To qualify for the state meet, you must meet certain times throughout the season. 

To make sure the season goes smoothly, the coaches named six captains; Noa Deseda, Lily Nevins, Ari Ramsay, Ryan Martin, Jabbaari Rhoden, and Liam Bray. Senior Noa Deseda has been on the team since her freshman year. She wants to be approachable and helpful as a captain. 

“I want to help people at swim meets because those can be really stressful, and [I want to] encourage them to not be so hard on themselves,” Deseda said. “Swimming is a super competitive sport, and you can really beat yourself up over a bad time. I want to be there for those people who are not encouraged and think they did bad when they actually scored points for our team.”

Despite the loss of a few key seniors who graduated, including Abby Peters, Zoey Spangler, and Maggie Watkins, Wesley expects the team to do well this year. Wesley had a team at Inman Middle School last year and is confident in the abilities of the new freshman class. Like many other sports teams in 2020, the swim team hopes, above all, to stay safe.

“I guess we hope to make it through the whole season without Covid-19 interrupting our season,” Wesley said.