Sports

Swimmers set to practice, possibly compete virtually

Although it’s not a normal season the swimmers will still be able to get in the water and work on their skills.
— Middlebury Marlins coach Colleen Rueppel

ADDISON COUNTY — Coaches and organizers for the Vergennes Champs and Middlebury Marlins are now planning to keep many of their young swimmers active this summer even though the Champlain Valley Swim League season was called off in mid-May.
All were pleased pools in Middlebury and Vergennes opened, even on a limited basis, enough to allow young swimmers to hit the water this summer. 
“I am very happy to say that the Vergennes pool will open and we will have a 2020 VST (Vergennes Swim Team) swim season,” said Champs President Amanda Crocker.
By Sunday the Vergennes team had passed a minimum 50-swimmer threshold to make the season financially viable for the program, Crocker said. Vergennes officials had earlier agreed to set aside time at the city pool for the Champs. 
Middlebury team coach Colleen Rueppel said even with young athletes not able to compete and gather for traditional meets they can still practice their strokes, exercise, and see their friends — from a safe social distance. 
“Although it’s not a normal season the swimmers will still be able to get in the water and work on their skills,” Rueppel said. 
As is the case in Vergennes, Middlebury officials recently confirmed that the town team could reserve pool time. 
The Marlins have 66 swimmers interested, according to Rueppel. For safety purposes, she split them into two larger groups, one of which will practice on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 
Within those groups she will split into smaller groups of no more than eight swimmers, and run five practices daily starting on June 29, and she will take further health precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, following CDC and USA swimming recommendations. 
“In order to follow guidelines, swimmers will be in their own lane or will be sharing a lane with a sibling. Swimmers will also be starting at opposite ends of the pool,” Rueppel said.
In Vergennes the Champs will run daily morning practices, Crocker said, with two sessions, from 7:30 to 8:20 and 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. weekdays, plus an extra session on Saturday morning. Their season will run from July 6 to Aug. 6. 
The team is limiting registration to “only families who have swam with VST before” and to swimmers with at least some experience, at least to start with, according to Crocker. 
Both teams are interested in competing against other teams by recording times, although details are still being worked out. 
“We hope to participate in Vermont Swim Association’s virtual time entry competition. If we have time during our sessions, we would be interested in virtual meets with other CVSL swim teams, but currently nothing is planned,” Crocker said. “Our focus has been on opening the pool and figuring out whether we had enough interest to run a season given the restrictions due to COVID-19 and increased cost.”
Likewise, Rueppel is waiting on competition details. 
“I am not really sure how virtual meets will work. I think the league is still trying to figure that part out,” she said.
But she is sure swimmers will enjoy being back in the pool. 
“I have some swimmers that swim for me on the winter team, and they have been out of the water since March,” she said. “There are of course specific rules we have to follow because of COVID-19, and it’s awesome that we have families that are willing to follow them and still swim this summer.”

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