Winter sports begin, amid heightened precautions

COVID mitigation sign on the Field House, January 13, 2021 – Tyler Zimmer ’21

Following state-wide, Inter-Ac, and in-house decisions, fall sports participated in a shortened season ending in late November. The hiatus continued through Winter Break until the Inter-Ac agreed to resume athletic activity. After more than a month without sports, winter athletes returned to practice on Monday, January 11, 2021.

     The new season brings plenty of questions among athletes about the length, risk, and intensity of their respective sports. 

     The swim team, which has not practiced since last February, typically spends the first couple of weeks getting back into shape before ramping up the intensity. Head Coach Sean Hansen follows the same schedule every year.

 “The training we do as a team is usually broken up into three phases: conditioning phase, power phase, and a taper phase,” Hansen said.

    This year forced Hansen to try something different. 

     “Given that we only have a seven-week season, we are utilizing a training style called USRPT, which stands for Ultra Short Race Pace Training.  The concept here is that you only swim at your goal race pace or faster in practice. This means no drills or longer swimming. If you don’t do it in a race, you don’t do it in training. You focus on training your body to perform at race pace,” Hansen said.

     The overall goal is to simulate a racing situation in a workout to better prepare the athlete’s body for the actual race.

     Unlike swimming, basketball games require much more than training and conditioning. The basketball team is faced with the challenge of learning plays and developing chemistry in such a short time. Fifth Former Jameel Brown is optimistic regarding the team’s chances.

     “The short season definitely impacts the team because it makes us go so much harder. We only play Inter-Ac games, and they mean so much more [than out of league games], not only to us but to the whole school. Chemistry did carry over from last year, despite losing a lot of players. This year, the juniors and seniors will keep it going.” 

     Another unfortunate restriction this year gives winter athletes a hard time catching their breath.  

     “The masks are the most difficult part of the new restrictions. They’re definitely annoying, but I feel like, after a couple of weeks of practice, we’ll get used to them,” Brown said.

     As winter athletes approach their competitions, they face countless, unprecedented challenges. Teams still take advantage of their limited practice time, following all the new rules in place, and getting ready to compete. Sixth Form Swimmer Jack Deppen voiced his confidence. 

   “We’re ready to go,” Deppen said.

Author: Jake LaRocca '22

Sports editor Jake LaRocca has written for The Index since 2018. His articles "Water Polo led by junior Olympians" earned a Silver Key from the 2020 Philadelphia-Area Scholastic Writing competition.