Carlmont water polo dives back into training despite challenges

Anika+Marino%2C+a+junior%2C+practices+shooting+during+a+varsity+team+practice.+Since+players+are+not+allowed+to+share+equipment%2C+coaches+and+athletes+are+finding+other+ways+to+improve+players%27+skills.+

Rachel McCrea

Anika Marino, a junior, practices shooting during a varsity team practice. Since players are not allowed to share equipment, coaches and athletes are finding other ways to improve players’ skills.

Carlmont water polo jumped back into practices in mid-September, to the excitement of coaches and athletes. However, like most activities in 2020, training looks a little different this year.
“Honestly, it’s pretty strange training during a pandemic,” said Noe Foehr, a sophomore on JV. “We have been focusing on our swimming and ball skills because it would be very hard to do anything else while staying safe.”
The district follows the San Mateo County Department of Public Health‘s current health standards and guidelines from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). Practices require temperature checks and social distancing, among other safety measures.
“Everyone has their own lane and have to start on opposite sides of the pool,” said Sydney Phan, a junior on varsity.

The players are also not allowed to share equipment, which makes passing the ball impossible.

“Most of the training [right now] is just swim sets,” said Nick Perlich, a senior on varsity. “It’s pretty much a swim team except we get to swim with the ball sometimes.”

This year we have not really done any team bonding because social distancing makes some of the ways we have done [it] in previous years not possible.”

— Sydney Phan, junior on varsity

Coaches for both the water polo and swim teams have been coordinating to ensure that every pod has a practice time.
“[The coaches] really work together as a team to iron out practices,” said Carlmont Athletic Director Patrick Smith.
However, having six total pods practicing in the same pool can mean early practice times for some.
“Some might say waking up to go in a freezing pool is as good as bonding gets,” said Perlich, whose pod has been practicing at 6:30 a.m. three times a week. “Something about other people suffering with you while swimming is comforting.”
After the cancellation of spring sports in March and April, teams stayed out of the pool until June, when the San Mateo Union High School District began bringing back athletes in groups of 12. Sequoia Union High School District followed suit, allowing sports to get back to practices under specific guidelines.
Though the teams were able to train over the summer, practices were canceled in late July due to tightened county restrictions.
“I was part of the summer training pod,” Phan said. “When the pool was shut down again people were kind of sad because we enjoyed being able to see each other.”
Perlich agreed.
“It was nice to get into a rhythm of practice and actually get out of the house. The pool closing was sad, but at least we didn’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. for a while,” he said.
Fortunately for teams and coaches, practices resumed on Sept. 21.
“The best thing about going back to practice is definitely just being able to get out and see other people,” Foehr said. “It’s super great being able to see my teammates a few times a week.”
Since the players are not allowed to share equipment or come within six feet of each other, coaches have to get creative with their training.
“[The teams] use a couple of floating goals,” Smith said. “But, obviously everybody can’t shoot on a floating goal. They have [players] shooting into the swimming pool wall so they can still practice the idea of taking a shot.”
Though players and coaches are excited to be back in the pool, uncertainty clouds the season’s future.

I’m really hoping that by winter we will be able to play some games or scrimmages or something along those lines, because I really miss playing in games.”

— Noe Foehr, sophomore on JV

“I think a lot of it’s just gonna depend on what the next two and a half months look like,” Smith said. “If tomorrow was the start date, we all know that we wouldn’t be allowed to [compete] because we’re not allowed to share a ball right now and things like that. But a lot can happen in two and a half months.”
Girls varsity coach Bernice O’Connor says that the coaches are trying to make practices fun while still keeping the players fit enough to compete in the future.
“It’s all we can do,” she said.

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