Louisa swimmers return to pool

Junior Lauren Dessent practices her freestyle technique during a recent practice at Fork Union Military Academy.

The Louisa County High School swim team is hitting the pool for their 2020-21 season. The team boasts a large number of returning swimmers from last year, as well as an experienced group of freshman swimmers.

“It feels really good to be out with this group of guys and girls,” said senior Josh Cutright. “I’ve been swimming with most of them for three years or more ...  so it feels good to be back with this group.”

Among the returning swimmers are junior Dyllan Hartman and sophomore Cole Owen, both of whom set school records in numerous events last season. The pair continued the trend in their first swim meet of the season on Dec. 30, breaking records they set last season. Hartman recorded respective times of 23.96 seconds and 54.12 seconds in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races and Owen swam the 200-yard freestyle in one minute, 57.91 seconds.

Joining them in returning to the pool are seniors Cutright, Hailey Conner and Abby Pierce; juniors Elijah Craig, Lauren Dessent, Preston George, Kaitlyn Goldschmidt, Ashton Lonce, Alexander Menton and Alison Soriano; and sophomores Amelia Bingler and Eleanor Pekary.

Rounding out the team are freshmen Kaden Gurski, Grace Hobbs, Tanner Jenkins, William Moore, Shannon Shaw and Taylen Soriano. While this is their first time competing as members of the varsity swim team, they are veterans of the Louisa Gators and have competed in the sport for years.

“They fit in well,” Dessent said. “A lot of them do summer swim with us so we basically already know them, and they’re really tight with our little group.”

As with all sports, changes have been made to how meets are being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spectators aren’t allowed at events and social distancing is required when swimmers aren’t competing. 

“The kids are handling it fine,” said head coach Debra Bickley. “They really don’t get to be around their parents during meets anyway.”

Another change this year is that relay races won’t be held due to the increased number of people around the pool for those events (four people per relay team) would make social distancing difficult.

“It’s kind of disappointing,” Bickley said. “The relays are fun for the team, but it puts too many people on deck with no masks.”

Even with the changes, the team is still hoping to be able to grow as the season continues.

“Even though we might not be able to get as close physically as we want to be, we still want to be that tight-knit group that we always are,” Cutright said.

With their first meet behind them, the Lions are preparing for their next competition, which is scheduled for Jan. 8. Louisa will host the Charlottesville Black Knights swim team at Fork Union Military Academy. 

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