SCHENECTADY — Following a lengthy delay, athletes from Schenectady and Colonie began Monday afternoon their in-pool preparation for an abbreviated swimming and diving season.
“We were able to salvage something,” Schenectady/Colonie coach Travis Herron said just before his merged team got into the pool for the first time at the Schenectady High School Aquatic Center. “Our first meet is Thursday and we haven’t been in the water yet, and we don’t care. We’re together, and we’re competing.”
Cleaning up mold that had developed on some equipment and on some walls at the swim center was completed last week, which gave Schenectady/Colonie clearance to finally prepare in the water.
“They’ve been practicing every day at 4 o’clock. I’ve seen them out there running,” Schenectady athletic director Steve Boynton said Monday. “They’re excited. They’ve been waiting for it.”
Schenectady and Colonie students competed together for the first time last season.
“From last year, all we wanted was for this to happen,” said Colonie senior Gabbie Lupe, who is a team captain along with Schenectady 12th-grader Josie Casper. “We wanted to have it again, to be with the girls.”
While most other Section II fall sport teams began practicing Sept. 21, Schenectady/Colonie was on hold while Schenectady’s administration figured out how to go about running the pool amid the district’s financial woes.
“No one ever told me we have to stop practicing,” Boynton said at that time. “We’re hoping for the best.”
Monday was the best day the team had had in quite some time, with water to work out in and an actual meet on its collective mind.
“We were running. Lots of running,” Casper said of the team’s training prior to Monday.
With a smile, Casper added: “Not a pretty sight.”
Schenectady/Colonie will compete with a cast of 20, including its lone diver, Colonie freshman Gabrielle Norton.
“My freshman year, we had seven girls on the team,” Casper said. “This was my dream as a freshman.”
Boynton said Schenectady/Colonie will piggyback off of the Troy/Averill Park regular season meet schedule, and compete — virtually — Thursday against Guilderland/Voorheesville, Oct. 29 against Albany, Nov. 4 against Ballston Spa and Nov. 12 against Bethlehem, the 2019 Section II Division 1 team champion.
“It’s about getting the girls in there. Doing something for the seniors,” Herron said. “To lose the entire year would be devastating to our program. We’re very appreciative of the district to open the pool and let us in.”
Last season Schenectady/Colonie put together a record of 4-4 in the Suburban Council and 5-4 overall. Schenectady freshman Alexis Gibson also became the program’s first state-meet qualifier in 2019 in the 100-yard butterfly.
“We are coming off a tremendous season,” Herron said. “If it was just the Schenectady team, it would have been the best team we ever had. With the Colonie kids, that brought us up another notch.”
As part of Section II’s effort to limit contact between student-athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no Section II championships competitions will take place this fall season, though some league’s have scheduled season-ending league championships. The Suburban Council swim and dive championships will be hosted by Shenendehowa and Niskayuna on Nov. 21.