Though unlike what anyone is accustomed to, the Westchester Swim Conference is having a season.
The meets are being held virtually, with swimmers participating in their home pools. The times are recorded and sen to the WSC, who posts them online.
The decision to hold virtual meets came at a meeting of the WSC board on June 29, and events began the week of July 13.
The WSC includes the Ardsley Swim Club, Ardsley Country Club, and the Dobbs Ferry and Hastings village pools among its 34 teams. Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, and the Ardsley Swim Club opted out of this summer’s program.
“We are very happy that we managed to host a competitive platform for our swimmers,” Kate Shea Kennon, the WSC chairperson, said. “The board and I felt it was vital to have some kind of summer recreation season for our children and our sport.”
She continued, “It was helpful for the USA Swimming to come out with early guidelines for health and safety. This showed us that there was a way to structure a season. Some areas have not been able to host a season, so I am thrilled that we can because summer swimming is a highlight for the swimmers’ year.”
Explaining Hastings’ decision not to participate, “It really comes down to money,” coach Don Wemer said. He cited the revenue shortfall municipalities have suffered because of the pandemic.
“I am very disappointed,” Wemer added. “This is where we like to get the 6-, 7-, 8-year-old kids involved in the sport. I fear that we are going to lose a great group of kids because they are not getting the opportunity to swim this year.”
Meanwhile, Dobbs Ferry Recreation Department Superintendent Kendra Garrison decided to hold off until next year for her local team to make its debut in the conference.
“We were planning to be part of the Westchester Swim Conference, however they moved to a virtual type of program this year,” she said. “We want to have a ‘normal’ summer to kick off the season.”
WSC said there will be no divisional standings or divisional champions. And there will be no championship meet or county championship event this summer.
“Nothing can replace the energy of our championships, but our coaches are very creative in thinking of ways to motivate the swimmers, so I don't anticipate slower times being a problem,” Shea Kennon said. “After all, swimmers on a team can compete against each other in alternate lanes.”
Ardsley Country Club’s first “virtual meet” of the season was on July 17 against Westchester Hills.
ACC had a triple first-place finisher in Kayla Clinton, who posted the fastest times in the girls’ 12U 50-freestyle, 50-breaststroke, and 50-backstroke. Her time in the 50-free was 36.61 seconds, while she wrapped up the 50-back in 50.00. In the 50-breast, she touched the wall in 1:03.70.
ACC also boasted seven double-winners in Erin Kazmierczak (14U girls), Colette Levinson (6U girls), Claire Brady (14U girls), Grace Brady (17U girls), Rosemary Stamm (17U girls), Hudson Mollio (14U boys), and Connor Vincent (17U boys).
Levinson won the 25-freestyle in 37.73 and the 25-back in 41.01. Kazmierczak won the 100-back in 1:23.23 and the 100-butterfly in 1:38.43. Claire Brady won the 100-free in 1:12.08 and the 100-breast in 1:44.43. Grace Brady won the 100-free in 1:04.20 and the 100-back in 1:15.69. Stamm won the 100-breast in 1:14.42 and the 100-fly in 1:08.00. Mollio won the 100-back in 1:30.76 and the 100-breast in 1:49.65. Vincent won the 100-breast in 1:17.81 and the 100-butterfly in 1:02.84.
Single winners for ACC included Christian Lee in the 17U boys’ 100-free in 57.80, Gregory Kniesel in the 6U boys’ 25-back in 1:36.50, Colin Panarelli in the 8U boys’ 25-back in 29.17, Connor Kazmierczak in the 10U boys’ 50-back in 51.22, Peyton Clinton in the 10U girls’ 50-breast in 1:08.70, Levent Sarayli in the 10U boys’ 50-breast in 1:05.68 and Anthony Panarelli in the 12U boys’ 50-breast in 1:02.11.
ACC also was swiftest in the three relays — the 8U boys’ 100-free team finishing in 2:04.21, the 10U girls touching the wall in the 200-free in 3:19.89 and the boys’ 10U 200-free squad completing the event in 3:25.23.
Shea Kennon stressed that the WSC board felt an urgency to try to pull something together for this summer.
“After a long spring of Zoom classrooms, I and the whole board thought it was a priority to have some kind of season for the swimmers,” she said. “We wanted this for their parents as well, who have had a tough year too with being parent, teacher's aide, and employee while working from home.”
Shea Kennon continued, “The parents let us know that they wanted some kind of summer for their children's wellness. Our first priority was how to do this safely, and then our second priority was how to have a season to ensure the continuity of the sport and the organization in Westchester County.”
She added, “We discussed both goals in-depth with all the major stakeholders in our conference: coaches, parents, pool directors, and board members. This was very much a group effort, and I could not be more grateful for everyone's efforts on behalf of our swimmers.”
“Each team who participates this season — about two-thirds of our clubs have signed up so that's a great sign — will have four meets this season, which is only one off our usual five-meet dual-meet season,” Shea Kennon said. “Our efforts will go toward reporting the placement of the swimmer in comparison to other swimmers on other teams, so that the swimmer can gauge progress from week to week."