Queen’s Swimming captain details team journey ahead of OUA championship

Sophie Deasy speaks with the team about reentering into competition after two years of pause

Sophie Deasy writes about the swim team's journey throughout the 2021-22 school year.
Luka Gobovic

Sophie Deasy is the captain of the Queen’s Swimming team. Here, she discusses some of the difficulties the team has faced and speaks with teammates about their perspectives leading up to their first competitive meet in two years.

After a long pause in competition, Queen’s swimming will finally have the chance to race again at the OUA Championship this weekend.

Taking place from Mar. 10 to 12 in Toronto, this will be the first official meet for the team since February 2020.

Due to the pandemic, the swim team didn’t compete in the 2020-21 season. During that year, there were opportunities for us to continue training when restrictions allowed for it, but it was far from an ideal year for practice.

This season saw similar—and even more—obstacles. From September 2021 to February 2022, multiple periods of provincial restrictions forced the closure of pools and racing.

Additionally, there were changes made to coaches and team management that stalled formal tryouts, roster filling, and a regular training schedule until the end of October.

In times off from practice, the team worked hard to stay connected and keep each other motivated. However, away from the rest of the team for much of the past two years, each swimmer has ultimately been responsible for maintaining their own fitness and mindset.

With restrictions constantly changing, we’ve had to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

When the 2022 OUA championship was confirmed in early February, the team went to work. Erin Lee, our new head coach and former captain of Queen’s Swimming, made a note of this change in direction in an interview.

“With only about a month’s notice of this meet actually happening, we had some serious work to do […] Trying to fit two years of practice and preparation for the biggest, and only, meet of the year into such a short time is not an easy thing to do,” she said.

Amidst all these challenges, Lee is extremely proud of what the team has done so far. Not only is the roster swimming faster than she expected, but it’s also been adaptive to changes such as their delayed start, an unexpected break from swimming from December to January, and her arrival as the new head coach.

Katie Morrison, ArtSci ’22, also recognizes the skills that have been established during the two-year break in racing.

“The past two years will definitely contribute to my preparedness for OUAs. With all of the uncertainty we have faced, we learned to be adaptable but also to be easier on ourselves, which I think will be super important this year specifically,” she told me in an interview.

Morrison noted that although she’s mentally prepared for the obstacles the OUAs might bring, physically, she feels as though she won’t achieve peak performance.

“I probably won’t be aiming for my best times like I usually would be, I think instead my focus will be more towards splitting well and having good race technique.”

Almost every other swimmer on the team is similarly expecting slower times, especially since men’s and women’s sessions are separate this year. Without the whole team on deck, team support—which often enhances performance—will likely be less loud.

As for the team’s rookies, they’ve set their expectations even lower than some veterans. This will be their first time representing Queen’s in a meet, and they have little else to compare their hopes to, competitively speaking.

In an interview, Ally McMullin, Kin ’24, touched on how strange it was that despite being in her second year in undergrad, she’s still considered a rookie on the team. Nonetheless, she’s excited to represent Queen’s on the competitive stage.

“Even if I don’t swim fast, I’m still going to be so excited to actually get to experience a varsity-level meet. Traveling with the team, finally getting to wear a ‘Q’ on my cap and putting on a race suit for the first time in two years will be the best part,” she said.

Although there are a few individuals who have impressively fast times and a shot at glory—like co-captain Matt Halpen and rookie Kim Song—the team is planning to be supportive of each other regardless of individual results.

While the OUAs will mark the end of the 2021-22 season, the meet also marks the end of multiple swimming careers on the team. Evidently, their time spent both in and out of the pool this weekend will be cherished.

Halpen, Comm ’22, wanted to emphasize to OUA first-timers the importance of taking the pressure off themselves this weekend and only focus on having fun.

“Beyond this being a chance to perform as a team and to show what we are capable of doing, this is either the first time or […] the last time […] that we get to race while representing Queen’s,” he said in an interview. “That in itself is exhilarating, so as long as that is remembered, the results will follow.”

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