BRISTOL - The pandemic took most of the excitement out of the 2020 girls swimming season as so many meets were held virtually to prevent the spread of COVID.
While swimmers are primarily focused on posting their best times without regard to the people swimming in the lanes beside them, it is hard to replicate the energy of two opposing swimmers racing next to each other and grinding it out to touch the wall first.
Everyone will still be required to wear masks inside when they are not physically in the pool this year, but swimmers across the state are looking forward to a more normal-feeling season with proper schedules and state meets at the end of the year. For Bristol Central, everyone on the team is expected to show improvements from last year while taking in the enjoyment of a complete season.
“They just feel more prepared for whatever could possibly happen because it can’t be any different than last year,” head coach Adrienne Bentley said. “The only worse thing would be not to have a season at all, last year really prepared them to expect anything.”
With a smaller roster than most years, the Rams will be looking to its six seniors to lead the way in the pool this season. Bentley said she’s seen a different attitude from this year’s class that she has not seen in the past and expects it to help further motivate them to work harder and improve.
“I think all my seniors have the potential to have a really good season,” Bentley said. “They realize it’s their last season. Sometimes [student-athletes] know it, but they don’t realize it until the season is almost over and they realized it soon, they realized it now. Alayna Lawson, Christina Tomcak, Janelly Luis-Fuentes, Brianna Lamothe and Emely Sosa Requena, I just think they’ve really grasped that this is going to be the last time they get to experience it this way and they want to make the most of the experience.”
Bentley said much of the team showed up to their first practice looking prepared and in shape for the season. Not everyone in the program is a competitive swimmer year round, so showing that level of commitment should yield positively those that put in the work.
“I put it on them this summer to do conditioning,” Bentley said. “I sent them the workouts and I can see that quite a few of them did the conditioning. They looked really good on their first day getting in the water and I was just really happy, it put a smile on my face.”
Central will begin its season Oct. 13 at home against Rocky Hill. After that, it has a week and half off until its next meet when it will begin a more regular schedule. With state-tournament meets at end of the season in November, everyone has a goal to reach that they did not have last year, a goal that’s way more enticing than anything they were allowed to do last season.
“I expect there to be a lot more excitement and probably a lot more gratitude [from] us being able to get out there and have some more normalcy,” Bentley said. “I think the energy is going to [have] more gratitude, people are really excited to be back.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.