Roadrunner Aquatics Club Team back in the water

Ariane Skeggs, Sports Writer

The Roadrunner Aquatics Club swim team have started to get back in the pool to practice within the last few weeks, and are following strict COVID related rules.

Although the local swim club normally practices at California State University, Bakersfield facility the pool has been closed since March due to the pandemic. The club is training at Bakersfield College instead.

Head Coach Michelle Kroll said that Roadrunner Aquatics has five sessions a week at BC. She said the comfort of the home pool deck and the level of pride that comes with that. The coaching staff and swimmers, though happy to even be back and see each other in these times, “There is a level of comfort and pride being in your home pool that our swimmers and staff miss greatly.” She said.

Bakersfield College is allowed to open up their facilities because they are a community college, this allows for the clubs to use the pool. CSUB is not allowed to open their facilities back up to the clubs yet, due to their affiliation as a Cal State Universities.

Not only does limited time slots for practices affect the club, but also that they only have five sessions, and they have to split them up into different levels. They train the competitive Elite and Senior group, three times a week. The age group swimmers train twice a week. The high school-aged swimmers, 13 and over, train three times a week. The number of sessions and groups that have to practice, make it hard to keep the normal practice schedule that the groups used to participate in before COVID-19.

There are only so many athletes allowed in the pool due to space. The competition pool is 50 meters long with twenty 25 yard lanes. Normally there could be up to six swimmers per lane, depending on how many athletes attend practice. With COVID-19 this now creates the maximum number of swimmers as 40 for the entire pool. There are now only two swimmers a lane and they are on opposite ends from one another. Even though the max number of swimmers could be 40 in the pool at once, Roadrunner Aquatics has not gotten close to this number.

“We never are at this many swimmers for safety reasons, our max has been 22 swimmers in one practice session,” said Kroll.

Swimmers now get more space to themselves. “A lot of lane space might be the only decent thing to come out of COVID. I love it,” said Caroline Rous Roadrunner Aquatics Club Elite swimmer.

The older kids have begun to trickle back in, but the younger kids seem to not be attending. BC is across town from CSUB, which is why many of the swimmers are a part of Roadrunner Aquatic Club and not Bakersfield Aquatic Club, who have always used BC’s pool. Rous said that the swimmers are beyond excited to get to see one another in person rather than just over zoom.

Rous said, “practices have been hard and long for us swimmers but they are happy to be back in the pool.”

Practices used to be two hours a night but now are two and a half to get as much in as possible for the limited days they have access to the pool.

According to Rous, it’s hard for the swimmers because these practices are unlike what they did before. Especially when the three longer sessions end up back-to-back days it can hurt a little cause they are not used to it.

“The team is doing extremely well with social distancing and keeping everyone safe,” said Kroll. Masks are strictly enforced and are on the moment the athletes leave the car till the moment they are about to get in the pool and back on the moment they leave the water.

Kroll said the coaches worried about the younger kids wanting to see their teammates and friends, but they are doing a great job and following all the rules.

Rous said they are having a little bit of a hard time not being able to socialize and see their friends anywhere near as much. They used to see these people six or seven days a week and now it’s three if they are lucky. They have found ways to stay connected and keep up the family feelings outside of the pool, through Facetime, Snapchat, and texts.