Girls Swim Team Hits Pool, At Last

COVID-19 Concerns Pushed Fall Sport to March


Maddy Forse ('21)

The Trophy case on Main Street at RMHS.

Lydia Molettieri ('21), Orbit Contributor

After over a year since their last season, the RMHS Girls Varsity Swim Team was finally able to jump back into the pool in the newly developed “Fall II” season. 

In August 2020, the team was getting ready for their fall season when MIAA announced that the season would be postponed  due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although this news was a disappointment to the team, the girls were able to finally start their season on Monday, February 22. The swimmers were eager to get back in the pool, even though it was nearly 6 months later than expected. Despite the shift , the girls have been able to find several benefits to being in the new Fall II season. 

Not only was the timing of the season different, but girls swimming also welcomed two new coaches, head coach Lianne Bradley and assistant coach Cassie Tobey, both RMHS graduates.

This is a role I have been hoping to have since I was a swimmer on RMHS.

— Coach Lianne Bradley


“I’m most excited to be able to be part of the coaching staff for the high school team that I once swam on and was captain of! Never thought I’d see the day!”said Tobey. Head coach, Lianne Bradley said, “I am beyond excited to be the head coach of Reading. This is a role I have been hoping to have since I was a swimmer on RMHS.” 

While almost everything typical of a normal season is different this year, the swimmers are taking these changes in stride. When asked about the other differences the 2021 season brought compared to the others, swimmer Ally Kneeland (‘22) said, “Now we swim at night instead of after school…it is just a lot later than I am used to, which I think is more tiring.” With pool space being limited due to the pandemic, the team now practices at the Burbank YMCA from 8:00 to 9:30 PM, which is a large adjustment from their usual 3:30-5:00 PM practice slot.

Not only are practice times different for the Lady Rockets, but their meets look very different as well, as they are completely virtual. “This season we  have all virtual meets. This means that Reading will swim at their own pool, and their opponent will swim at their separate site. After both meets are completed coaches will exchange times and score the meet,” stated Coach Bradley. 

The lack of physical competitors at all meets raises concerns for some swimmers.  Anna Boemer (‘23) said, “It’s tough to get competitive because there is no one next to us racing, so I think that gets in the way.” Boemer is not alone in her sentiment. Coach Bradley said, “I am also a little worried about being able to stay competitive with virtual meets. Reading historically has some close league meets, and not being able to compete next to another strong swimmer, or race the last 5 yards to try to get a point for your team will be a challenge.”

Although this season may look different, it is extremely important to stick to the MIAA COVID-19 guidelines to keep swimmers and coaches safe. Along with virtual meets, the guidelines include “…no spectators at meets, and probably the most challenging restriction, no vocal cheering,” shared Coach Bradley. “Reading is a team full of traditions and some of those include pre meet cheering that will have to be modified this year.”

I am so excited to just be with the people I love and enjoy my last season.

— Tess Rhodes ('21)

One of the biggest concerns shared amongst RMHS swimmers and coaches for this season is staying safe and healthy.  According to Kneeland, the team is being vigilant, and no one wants to be the player who brought the season to an end.  “We already have such a short season and everyone has been looking forward to this. So, it is more that I would feel guilty.”  Luckily for Kneeland and RMHS athletes, RMHS is offering weekly pooled testing of athletes, to ensure safety and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus as much as possible.  

Although the girls have several concerns due to COVID and the differences in their season, no amount of concern can take away their excitement to be able to have a season in a time of such uncertainty. Captain Tess Rhodes (‘21) shared, “I am so excited to just be with the people I love and enjoy my last season…This team means so much to us, that I am not sure if I can pinpoint one thing that I am the most excited about.” Kneeland agreed as she said, “I am just happy to be having a season in general!” 

The RMHS Girls Swim Team is now preparing for their first ever virtual meet against Lexington on Friday, March 12th.