Covid tried to take away the season, but the O’Hara Swim Team wouldn’t let that happen. We rallied and came back stronger than ever! It all started when our amazing coach, Cherie Walters, secured a pool for practices. For two months beginning in January, the team and I swam outside at night in below freezing temperatures. The pool was heated (thank goodness) and when you entered the pool parking lot, you could see the steam rising from the water. Once we got in and started to swim, it warmed up. Getting out of the water was a different story…it was beyond cold and, some nights, icy along the pool deck.
Despite having practices, meets were in question for almost the entire season. We had many meets canceled because of snow. There was limited pool availability to host meets because of covid guidelines. Virtual meets, when we were lucky to compete, did not have the same excitement and energy as a normal meet would have. All through this, Coach Cherie pushed us to work hard in practice and reminded us that a “strange” season was better than no season at all. With everything going on around us, the team became even closer than we were before. We were extremely lucky to have the opportunity to swim and do what we love!
Leading up to Districts and PCLs was nerve racking. Districts felt electric. You could tell that every swimmer was excited to be racing other teams in person. The team did amazing! We were making best times in every event and many of our swimmers were on the podium! The girls’ team placed third overall and the boys’ team placed sixth overall in the district!
The success at Districts led to an even more successful PCL weekend. Going into PCLs, Cherie gave us one goal: to leave everything in the pool no matter what. She told us that regardless of PCL results, we had already won because of all of our hard work and dedication. We were not just swimming for ourselves, but we were swimming for Cherie because she gave us all the hope and confidence we needed. She never gave up on us even when we wanted to give up on ourselves. At PCLs, everyone had fantastic swims! The team was radiating so much energy and positivity that the global pandemic was an afterthought. When all was said and done, the team earned fifteen All-Catholic honors, the boys finished sixth in the PCL and the girls took home the title…2020-2021 PCL Champs! We look forward to hitting the water again next year and working towards another title!
Written By: Katie O’Hanlon ’22