After almost a year without competing, the LMU swim team is finally back in the pool.
The Lions participated in their first meet of the season last week against Pepperdine and the University of San Diego. With each swimmer in a different stage of fitness and preparation given COVID-19 regulations, the team’s main goal was just to enjoy the experience of competing again.
“The season’s been going really well,” said sophomore Kelli Andrade. “Obviously there have been a lot of restrictions, and that hasn’t made it easy. One difficult thing was that we all came back [to LMU] at different times; some of us came back the first day we could, and others had to quarantine. So I think it’s been hard for my coach to deal with everyone being in different spots of fitness. [We’re happy that] we can finally all train together again.”
The team looks very different this year with eight freshmen on the roster, but the talented newcomers are already making a positive impact. The standout swimmer so far has been Abby Shaw, a freshman from Rumson, New Jersey. Shaw took first place in the 50 meter freestyle in the season opener, which was her first collegiate meet.
“[Winning the race] was actually pretty insane because I hadn’t raced since last February,” said Shaw. “When I looked at the board I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I did that.’ I was pretty shocked at myself; it was a really thrilling experience.”
Shaw and the other freshmen have had a unique experience starting college during the pandemic, but being part of the swim team has made it easier for them to adjust and cope with all the difficulties.
“It’s been a very interesting freshman season, coming into the pandemic. Joining the swim team was really nice because it gave me a positive place to be in all this madness. It’s just a nice atmosphere to be around, especially in the pool … it’s like its own sanctuary,” said Shaw.
Andrade is helping the freshmen get acclimated to being part of the team. As the only returning swimmer in her relay unit, the sophomore is stepping into a leadership position that she wholeheartedly embraces.
“I was happy and proud that I could be in that relay with them. Being a year older than them, I can show them the reins,” said Andrade. “I was always afraid to speak when I was a freshman, so being just one year older makes it easier to talk to them and help them.”
The team has a lot of time to train and get to the same level of preparation before their next competition, which will be a home meet at Burns Aquatics Center vs. Pepperdine on Feb. 20.
“All [Coach Adair] wants to do is get everyone on the same page, and with everything going on she really just wants us to do our best,” said Andrade.