Norwood Swim Captains Steer Abbreviated SeasonFeb 01, 2021 05:16PM ● By Christopher Tremblay
Pictured left to right: Hailey Barrows, Victor Greene and Megan Sople
This year, swimming season is going to be unlike anything that the Norwood Mustangs have ever had to face. With Covid-19 still roaming the country, swim meets this winter are going to be 100 percent virtual. While the Mustangs will be swimming at Blue Hills in Canton, their opponents will be swimming in their designated pools elsewhere at the same time. Norwood will have five meets this year against Westwood (which they were scheduled to open up against on January 8), Dover-Sherborn, Medfield, Norton, and Dedham.
“Each team will swim at their home pool with officials present then the times for each event will be compared and winners announced,” Co-Coach Jen Rodger said. “It will be just like a regular meet just without the other team being in the pool next to you. The big question is, how do we motivate the kids or know how fast they need to swim to be competitive since their will be no side-by-side competitors?”
In addition to not swimming against your opponents in the same pool, there will be no post season for any of the swim teams. That in turn leaves yet another quandary to the Norwood Coaches to keep their team focused at the task without the motivation of a prize at the end.
“We are now challenged to set goals for our swimmers in terms of school records and personal times in their specific events,” Co-Coach Kate Curtin said. “We are going to set the kids up with expectations in terms of trying to beat the qualifying times for their events as though there was still a tournament. We will also try to familiarize them with their opponents each meet going though film and what we have from last year.”
The Mustang coaches believe despite the lack of swimmers in the pool from the opposing teams, Norwood will still be competitive and will have their teammates to swim against; so, in hindsight they’ll have some sort of gage of how fast they need to swim.
Social distancing will also have to take place at the pool amongst the Norwood swimmers and divers. Athletes will have to keep their distance from other teammates and if not participating in an event must always keep their masks on. In addition to the COVID-19 mandates this year, the Tri-Valley League changed the co-ed standards to separate boys and girls meets.
Guiding the Mustangs into the pool during this abbreviated season will be tri-captains Megan Sople, Hailey Burrows and Victor Greene. All three athletes have participated in the Sectionals as well as the States during their high school careers and the Norwood Coaches are relying on their leadership.
“Covid has made it challenging for us as Coaches we don’t get to see the athletes in school,” Rodger stated. “With that said, our captains are our in between us and the team; they are definitely an extension of the coaching staff especially for communication.”
Sople is a freestyler who brings versatility to the team. According to the Coaches, they can basically put the senior anywhere in the pool and expect results. Although she can do anything, Sople primarily swims in the 50, 100, 200, and 500 freestyle events. She can also play a role for the Mustangs in the relays if needed. Her personal best times are 27.83 in the 50; 2:12.4 in the 200; and 5:59.44 in the 500.
Much like Sople, Barrows can be depended on each time she gets into the water. Her coaches are looking for her once again to surpass her personal best times as well as qualifying times had there been a tournament.
“We expect as lot out of Hailey,” Curtin said. “In freestyle events, her times have definitely helped her to qualify as an individual, but they have also helped the team. As of recent, she has also been proficient in the backstroke.”
Barrows personal best times are 28.14 in the 50 freestyle; and 1:10.30 in the backstroke.
Greene primarily likes to focus on the sprint events: 50 and 100 freestyle, breaststroke during his first few years, and has been an interictal part of the Mustangs 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
His best times include a 24.50 in the 50 free; 54.49 in the 100 free; and 1:11.54 in the breast stroke. Participating in the relays, Greene and his teammates have done quite well in the post-season setting school records in each event. Swimming in the Sectionals 200-freestyle relay, he broke the school record with a time of 1:39.77, and taking part in the States in the 400-freestyle relay also set the school record with a time of 3:46.61.
Rodger and Curtin will be relying heavily on their captains to guide the Mustang team in this unprecedented season.