The Lewis & Clark swim team raced in their first two meets in almost a year on March 6 and 13. The first meet was against Linfield University, the second against Pacific University. Both the LC men’s and women’s teams lost against Linfield, 122-60 and 103-83 respectively, and won against Pacific 117-41 and 132-45.
The 2021 season will be shortened to four meets from the traditional eight due to the pandemic. The new restrictions require that the events are split up between men and women in order to limit the number of people in the pool at one time.
“The women’s and men’s events were held in two different sessions made up of 10 events on each side,” according to LCPioneers.com. “There were breaks following every four events.”
The Linfield meet, originally scheduled for Feb. 6, was postponed multiple times as the teams waited for restrictions to be lifted by Gov. Kate Brown JD ’85.
Erin Khong ’21, co-captain of the women’s squad, explained how practices were modified early in the semester in order to comply with COVID regulations.
“A couple of weeks into the semester, around Feb. 6, we were allowed to practice in groups of six in the pool,” Khong said. “And then recently, we were given clearance to hold full team practices.”
As a senior, Khong’s experience at the meet against Linfield was bittersweet.
“I’m very fortunate to still be able to be on campus with my team and with my friends, and be able to make the most of the opportunity we’re given,” Khong said. “I’m feeling very grateful to be doing this sport in a weird way right now. I know some sports don’t even have a season.”
At the beginning of the year, morale on the women’s team was low because the whole team was unable to practice together and there were no meets scheduled for the spring. Kate Milne ’24 joined LC swim this year as a first year and was unsure about how the season would go.
“I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into the year … but it was a little hard to want to train a lot,” Milne said. “Because then it didn’t really feel like we were training for anything in particular; we didn’t really have any meets on the horizon.”
However, after the Linfield meet, the energy in both locker rooms has shifted considerably.
“I am thankful we got to race today,” Head Coach Chris Fantz said in an interview for LCPioneers.com. “We saw a lot of smiles and heard a lot of laughter on deck. I am proud of our team for the way they approached their races and for showing up ready to enjoy the meet.”
Milne has especially appreciated the culture of LC swim, coming in as one member of a recruiting class of four. Milne, along with Zeya Korytko ’24, Alex Rudawsky ’24 and Peter Steck ’24 are the only first years on the Pio’s squads this season.
“It’s kind of like bittersweet to hear (upperclassmen) talking about fun stuff the team has done in the past,” Milne said. “But I’m excited for next year. Hopefully, we’ll do more team stuff outside of the pool. And during practices, they’ve all been super welcoming. I feel very comfortable on the team by now.”
Khong and Milne both won in their races against Linfield, Khong raced the 200-meter individual medley, and Milne competed in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle. The Pios also won the 200-meter freestyle relay, which Milne anchored.
Milne said she was excited but surprised that she won all three of her events in her first collegiate meet.
“It’s kind of a bizarre feeling,” Milne said. “In high school, I was kind of like in the middle of the pack … so it’s a really fun feeling that I’m not super used to.”
COVID-19 restrictions prevented spectators from attending, but both home meets were live-streamed on LCPioneers.com. The lack of spectators also proved to be melancholy, but some swimmers took it better than others.
“Because there was a minimal amount of people in (the pool) it was actually pretty quiet … so that was calming for me,” Milne said. “And the people who usually you can hear the most are your teammates … and they were there. The spectators that mattered were there.”
LC swim will face George Fox University on March 27 in their first away meet of the season. The Pios are looking forward to keeping their energy up after their win against Pacific and making the most of the rest of their season.
“I think everyone is enjoying the moment and making sure that we’re taking advantage of what we have in front of us,” Khong said. “I don’t think we’re looking to do anything crazy, just enjoy the time that we have to compete because we had no idea we were going to get the chance.”