On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! 2021 Swim Season Begins

Coco Bradford, Staff Writer

Coming back with a splash, the Chamblee Bullsharks’ 2021 swim season has begun. The team has had a total of five meets so far this season, and they are enjoying being back in the pool. The season was different last year with COVID, but it has, for the most part, gone back to normal this year. Freshmen are completely new to the team, and sophomores are finding their way at a new school while being part of what, for some, is their first real Chamblee sports experience.

The swimmers are coming back strong, and they have already set goals for what to accomplish this season.

“We’re looking forward to getting as many state cuts as possible, [and] hopefully getting some divers at state and just trying to place really well at state. That’s the main goal,” said Annie Wahlen (‘22).

Specific swimmers have also set personal goals.

“I want to cut at least half a second off of my 50 free time,” said Sam Johnson (‘24). “A few of my friends are going for state cuts this year [too].”

Practice schedules are back to normal this year, with a consistent pattern.

“We have a few practices every week that we have to go to,” said Mackenzie Dewoody (‘25). “There’s [practices in the] morning and afternoon, so you get to choose between the two.”

Typically, games and practices are regularly spread out.

“There’s time trials in the beginning and as long as you made it by the time, you got to choose what practice you [went] to,” said Addie Yarbrough (‘25). “I usually go in the afternoons. And Dunwoody practices at our pool too. [Games are] sometimes Tuesdays, [usually] Thursdays, and [sometimes] Saturdays.”

Last year’s season with COVID was organized differently than this year for many reasons, including team cuts.

“[Our first meet] was really fun because it was our first [one] back with a full team. Last year, we had to cut [members of the team] and this year we didn’t have to cut. So it was really fun to have a whole bunch of people on deck and cheering,” said Wahlen, “And yeah, it was just really nice to have everyone back again.”

In addition, the divers swam separately in the COVID year, and they have now returned with the swimmers.

“Last year, they would have the swim meet at the pool, and then they had all the swimmers clear out and they had all the divers do their meet [afterward],” said Micah Neely (’23). “It was actually nice because there wasn’t a lot of pressure, but it also sucked because when you nail a dive, [you want] everyone [to see] it and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, I just did that.’”

This has been especially enjoyable for some swimmers who enjoy watching the divers during the meets.

“I love to watch the divers. They’re so interesting. I love to watch them for the first time and I think that everyone enjoys that,” said Wahlen. “It does make the meets longer, but it’s worth it to watch them do their thing.”

Spectators are also back this year, which affects certain swimmers.

“I like that people can come and watch us and stuff. Two of my teachers came [to a meet] and watched us swim and we just invite family and friends and just whoever wants to come down. It’s free,” said Johnson.

Having an audience is less influential for other swimmers, but it does make a difference for some parents.

“I don’t really care about having spectators,” said Wahlen. “I think that that doesn’t really make a difference for me, but I think that the parents obviously like to watch their kids. ”

The swim team has also started up their old swim families this year, which they haven’t had since the 2019-2020 season.

“We started back swim families this year, after a year not having them, which is where our captains have co-parents. We take a group of 12 kids of all different ability levels, genders, ages, whatever, and we’re all in a family,” said Wahlen. “And so that’s really nice. It really helps our team bond together, [especially] people that wouldn’t usually get to see each other.”
Several swimmers appreciate the connections they have created through the program.

“I love my swim family. We think that we’re going to start doing some outings. But I don’t know what those might be or how it’s gonna work out, but I hope it happens,” said Johnson.

There are many more things that the swimmers are looking forward to this season.

“I’m looking forward to the meets because they’re really fun,” said Neely. “A lot of people do swim, I get to talk to them, [and it’s] a big social event.”

This year, the divers are also looking to improve their score at state.

“I think the girls are gonna do well because they have really good swimmers. We also have some good divers this year, which will help,” said Neely. “Swimmers get points and also divers get points. The girls would have won state if they had some good divers that went to state, but they got no extra points from divers since they didn’t have any state divers.”

For many, this season is shaping up to be a good one.

“I mainly keep track of the girls’ team and I’m really optimistic about how everyone’s looking this season,” said Wahlen.

Overall, the start of the swim season has been positive for everyone involved.

“You get to make friends with a whole bunch of people and build relationships with your coaches and your teammates and stuff,” said Johnson. “And it’s a really good place to be.”