The indoor arena is filled with cheers from fans. After a brief staredown among the competitors in each lane, lehigh swimming moves up to the blocks. Two short whistles, one long. The official reads the name for the next race. They hear the buzzer and dive in.
This is the set-up that most individuals will see in a dual meet, NCAA-regulated, during a regular season.
Instead of racing with their competitors, each team raced alongside their teammates in Jacobs Pool.
Despite the NCAA and Patriot League regulations requiring meet officials to referee competitions, due to social distancing practices Answer Racing each team’s coaches officiated from their respective pools.
Rob Herb, head coach of men’s and ladies’ lehigh swimming and diving, stated that there was no approval process for the virtual meet. It is a mutual understanding between the two coaches participating in the format and how it will be run without officials. Both coaches make the decisions and keep it fair.
The team has been affected by the change in officiating process. This was the Mountain Hawks’ first race since February of last year, when the Patriot League Championships were held.
Lehigh swimming Janik Wing, a sophomore butterflier and freestyler, said that a year without competing has allowed them to return to the sport with a renewed sense of gratitude.
Wing stated that “In many ways, the motivation and morale as a group has actually been better than ever because it’s the first time we’ve been back in the water for over a year.” Wing said, “I think that having that time away really helped us appreciate what we do have.”
Herb stated that swimmers often compete in time trials or other individual-driven races because there is not much competition in person.
Herb stated, “In the worlds of lehigh swimming or diving, scores can easily be executed at high-level without actually competing with someone next to you.”
Herb stated that he believed the team was competitive even under these circumstances and made the most of it.
Thompson stated that both teams tried to keep the meeting as real-time and as authentic as possible
Each swimmer entered their times into a Google Sheet after each race. The time would be compared to the other teams, with a five minute break between each event. Live scoring was possible. Meet Mobile also provided real-time results that can be accessed from any location.
Thompson stated, “Even after my swim, I would still know where I was with my teammates but not how the Rider girls were swimming lehigh.” “You can’t see the racers. These names are all you see on Meet Mobile.