PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Heather Budak is adjusting to the reality of this swim season.
The veteran Normal Community coach is coaching in a mask. And this year there are no relays at meets, taking away one of things she likes best about high school swimming.
“Making out lineups and changing things around, making combinations of relays that are going to be competitive with each other as a team,” Budak said. “And mixing those combinations and letting the girls find what works with them, it’s disappointing we can do that.”
High school swim meets in Illinois will certainly have a different look to them this year. Typically the decks are packed with activity but this year event managers have to adhere to limitations on the number of people that can be in the pool.
Only 50 people are allowed and that number includes swimmers, coaches, timers and officials. That likely means no spectators at meets.
And bigger teams can’t bring all their swimmers.
“We can’t have everybody swim because you’re only allowed 50 people in a meet,” said Peoria Notre Dame coach Derek Amerman. “We’d have to make cuts to allow for officials and coaches to work the meet.”
Still, swimmers are glad to play by the new rules just so they can have a swim season.
“I’m very happy we get to have meets. I was worried we weren’t going to be able to do them,” said Normal Community senior Morghan Hackman. “I was worried we’d only be able to have practices, which really isn’t a swim season without competing.”
Normal Community hosts Richwoods in the season opener Saturday. It’ll be the first meet with the “new” rules.
“Honestly, I think it’s totally worth it to have a season. Just to be together as a team,” said Normal Community senior Maddie McBurney. “We can still do things together we just have to be really careful about it.”