Delay to season left swim teams waiting for chance to get back in the pool

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

The Naugatuck and Woodland boys swim teams were docked on dry land as they waited for the opportunity to get in the pool.

The winter high school sports season has been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Jan. 14, the CIAC approved a plan to allow teams to begin practicing Jan. 19. Games won’t start, under the plan, until at least Feb. 8. Only boys and girls basketball, boys ice hockey, gymnastics and boys swimming are allowed to start competition on Feb. 8.

Local swim teams have not been allowed in school pools and have been forced to get creative to find ways to stay in a competitive state of mind.

“Typically during this time in a normal season is when we do the crux of our training with doubles over the break,” Naugatuck head swim coach Dan Knepple said.

Knepple said the team has been using the app Spond for to stay in touch.

“Until the CIAC declared that there would be a season, training has been up to the swimmers,” he said.

The Woodland boys swim team is in transition with first-year head coach Brendan Heller taking over.

“We had one meeting prior to the CIAC postponing the start of the season,” Heller said. “We have a strong group of upperclassmen who had a lot of success last year. They have been working out on their own.”

Heller has a veteran at his side to help in the transition in assistant coach Mike Magas, Woodland’s longtime girls swim coach.

“We are looking forward to picking up where we left off last year,” Heller said. “Once we get the word I know these boys will be ready to go.”

Teams have been allowed to hold conditioning practices, but only with four players and one coach at a time. For indoor track teams that could have rosters of up to 60 athletes, that could curtail any real progress.

Under the CIAC’s plan, boys and girls indoor track will still be limited to only practice. Indoor or even outdoor meets during the indoor season won’t be considered until at least March.

The Greyhounds have been taking advantage of that time.

“We have been working with four athletes at a time with each coach outside,” Naugatuck head coach Ralph Roper said.

“We are doing the best we can with what we have to work with according to the guidelines,” he added.

Woodland indoor track coach Jeff Lownds said the team didn’t hold any organized workouts and took a wait-and-see approach.