Knoxville swim teams opt for ‘virtual’ meets

Instead of bringing two squads together, teams now stay at their home pools and hold spirited time trials
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The pandemic is making things difficult for athletes all around East Tennessee, but that’s not stopping the Greater Knoxville Area Interclub Swimming Association from keeping things competitive this summer.

The organization oversees about 30 teams in the area - many of which have already gotten back to holding organized meets.

Instead of bringing two teams together to compete head-to-head, teams now stay at their home pools and hold timed trials. The squads then compare times and results of each event to determine a winning team.

“The first thing that ran through my mind is, ‘what is this even going to look like this year and how can we pep it up to make it interesting for our swimmers,’ and not just like, ‘oh we’re racing our same team every week,’ so how can we make it fun, but exciting and still see improvement with our swimmers,” said Chris Goodman, who’s been the head coach of the Gulfwood Gators in Cedar Bluff for the last ten years.

Keeping the kids excited to race their teammates can be difficult, so Gulfwood came up with a theme for each meet, and gives out prizes for some 1st-place finishers.

“We’re definitely more spirited now than any summer in the past because nobody really has anything else to do so I think that’s really interesting because then we all get to train harder too and really dedicate ourselves to swimming,” said swimmer Lulu McNulty.

Despite the distance between teams, Goodman sees the spirit of competition carrying on in a temporarily ‘virtual’ setting.

“If they can walk away from every practice and every meet by having fun and learning something, then I’m doing something right. I think a lot of it for them is just having fun with their friends, getting in the water and learning about that competitive environment.”

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