As March rolls back around and COVID-19 hits its near one-year anniversary, the Northgate-Avonworth Varsity swim team prepares for yet another WPIAL Championship meet.

Our team’s rising success has grown in the past 5 years as both boys and girls teams have held multiple consecutive undefeated seasons.

Last March, these triumphs were put to a halt with newly introduced COVID-19 restrictions. Preparations were at their highest, and the team was ready to compete. With no warning from the PIAA State Championship Committee, Northgate’s state team van turned around on its way to compete. The team never made it to its final destination: Bucknell University.

To avoid any potential championship cancelations this season, our team has taken the opportunity this March to effectively and safely train.

Championship training looks entirely different. Sibling and lane groups space us. There are no deck activities and masks must be worn at all times outside of the water. Swimmers must constantly adhere to “split-lane guidelines”. We are used to a close-knit setup. Distancing has become our new normality.

Collectively as a team, we have spent a majority of our non-pool time in self-quarantine.

These isolation measures are new to the team.

Each year hair-dying parties, pep rallies, team-bonding gatherings, sponsored dinners, cryotherapy treatments, and in-person team prep meetings, are at the forefront of our championship setup. Under COVID-19 guidelines, all extra activities have been canceled.


The outcome of last year’s WPIAL hair-dying party


This year has just looked different. Our team is a bundle of community and support. We are used to building each other up mentally and being emotionally connected by our passion. Being physically distanced is also a challenge for us as we typically spend an entire school day and practice schedule together. We are learning and growing through the process.


Northgate’s Varsity Girl’s Team 2021


As a senior, I think this is the hardest part of my year. Many seniors miss their final year and every experience that comes with graduating. I miss the normality of training, being close to my teammates, and spending our championship time together. As we stay safe and separate in preparation for Saturday, we are hopeful that our efforts are building a strong foundation for success.

Northgate’s Varsity Swim Team’s Senior Class 2021


The Girl’s team won the WPIAL championship and the boys were runner-up.

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