Shiver Me Timber-Wolves

Swim Faces Challenges as They Prepare For Districts

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Photo by Kassidy Wilkinson

Trying to regain strength with every breath, sophomore Patrico Salazar competes in the longest event in UIL high school swimming, the 500-yard freestyle. For the fourth meet of the season, the swim team drove to The University of Texas where they participated in the annual AISD invite. Like the team’s times, the temperatures outside were starting to drop. “Regardless of how much I swam, I was only able to sustain for an hour of practice,” Salazar said. “Then I started shivering while swimming and turning purple on my hands, feet and pretty much all around.”

Kassidy Wilkinson, Reporter

Two whistles. Sophomore Patricio Salazar steps behind the starting block adjusting his goggles for the final time. Another whistle, this one longer than the first two. Despite the echoing voices,  Salazar only focuses on the pool in front of him as he climbs onto the block. He places his hands on the edge, bending both legs slightly, in preparation to throw himself forward. A horn sounds. Without a second thought, Salazar dives in.

In past years, the swim team has held their daily practices at Elizabeth Milburn Pool, across the street from the school. When winter would approach, bringing its cold temperatures, the pool heaters would be put to the test of whether or not they would last the season. Almost every year, they would fail. This year after they failed early, in the beginning weeks of October, head coach Les Greenwood decided to make the switch to another pool facility where the heater would be able to maintain the dropping temperatures.

“The low was 45 degrees outside and it was super cold in the mornings,” Salazar said. “The [pool] heaters were ‘supposedly’ on but it didn’t feel like they were on at all and they were just pushing out more cold water.”

While some swimmers were able to swim through the freezing water and attended practice like normal, it proved hard for others, according to Salazar. At the point of shivering during sets, swimmers chose to get out of the pool rather than finish out the practice.

“Now I’m a pretty skinny person who doesn’t have much body fat,” Salazar said. “I was getting cold extremely fast. Regardless of how much I swam, I was only able to sustain for an hour of practice before I started shivering while swimming and turning purple on my hands, feet and pretty much all around. My friends told me to just get out instead of forcing my body to swim before something else happened.”

Ten minutes away from the Milburn pool stands an indoor pool facility, Waterloo Swimming, which is an aquatic center that teaches swim lessons and has their own club swim team. This natatorium provided a solution to the growing problem.

“The pool temperatures were going below optimal swim range and the district didn’t allow us to swim in those conditions,” sophomore Ryder Wilkinson said. “We switched pools to Waterloo which offers pool space to high school teams and it has a lot of swim lanes. Plus they were nice enough to let us use their pool.”

This was a welcome change, according to sophomore Chance Meyer. Before, lots of swimmers made sure their complaints were heard about the lowering temperatures of the pool, some even refusing to show up to practice.

“It’s depressing,” Meyer said. “[When it’s] cold [outside] and you’re getting into something colder, you have nothing to look forward to. I like Waterloo better than Milburn because the water is warmer. Also the outside temperature year round, when you’re not in the pool, is also warmer. And Waterloo [provides] us with more equipment.”

Despite these challenges, the swim team continues preparing for districts and Tisca, two of their biggest meets of the season, according to Ryder Wilkinson. Tisca will take place Dec. 1-3, while the district meet is set to take place on Jan. 26. At districts, the top six in every event will continue on to regionals where they will compete for a place at state.