BY DEBORAH MOON
On Oct. 1, the Stingrays swim team returned to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center pool for the first time since the COVID closed the center in March.
During the summer, the team met twice weekly on Zoom – once for a social gathering and once for dryland workouts. Now that the pools are open, the team is getting wet again – though with pandemic limitations, only 42 swimmers are on this year’s teams compared to 80 to 90 in a non-COVID year.
“The best part is seeing all the kids again and being able to interact,” says Stingrays Head Swim Coach Jennie Condon. “It’s great to see them improve and getting joy out of what they are doing.”
The 42 swimmers range in age from 9 to 17. Jennie decided not to run a pre-team, which begins at age 5, because it would be difficult to maintain the physical distancing requirements in the water for that age.
The five Gold swimmers practice 45 minutes four days a week. The Silver and Bronze swimmers practice in groups of six to eight swimmers for half an hour twice a week. The six lanes are limited to one swimmer each, with the exception of the outside lanes, which two siblings can share.
The two coaches can provide more individual coaching this year than they can in a typical year with 20 or so swimmers in the water at a time.
“A couple of swimmers were struggling with a technique last season,” says Jennie. “Being able to work with them one on one for 15 minutes, you see the light bulb go on. That’s the upside to COVID.”
Competitions technically could be held, says Jennie, but no meets are currently planned. However, Jennie has reserved Fridays as “race day,” giving each group of swimmers one 45-minute session each month where they can get timed and compete – at least against their teammates and personal bests.
Jennie, who is also the J’s aquatics program manager, has scheduled Stingray practices to accommodate MJCC members, who can also access both the main pool and the warm water pool. Members can reserve 45 minutes in either pool Sunday-Friday. Members can make a reservation up to 72 hours in advance at oregonjcc.org or by calling 503-244-0111.