With restrictions in California starting to lift it also meant that I was finally able to start practicing in person with the women’s water polo team and getting in the water to train on April 5.
I have been playing water polo since I was 10 years old and have never taken longer than a few weeks off from the sport. So when we went into lock down I went from competing and practicing 6 to 7 days a week to all of a sudden absolutely nothing.
The team would spend many Zoom meetings throughout quarantine with our head coach and athletic trainer talking about the possibility of returning to practice, but nothing felt like it was certain.
When I got the message that we would be able to return this month, there was a lot of excitement and worry about how out of shape I was. My teammate Porsche Double, a junior psychology major, even texted me about how nervous she was about starting practices.
In order to be able to practice, we are under a lot of COVID restrictions and are still not able to practice at the full length or potential that we want to. Practices that were once three-hours long are now only one hour. We are limited to having one person in each lane and when we are on deck we must wear masks and practice social distancing.
“La Verne allowing us to get to phase one is fantastic because it indicates that we are going to go further,” said Pat Beemer, head coach of the women’s and men’s water polo teams.
One teammate Loreny Valdez, a senior health administration major and goalkeeper, had concerns about COVID and wasn’t fully sure if she wanted to come back, but felt more comfortable knowing all of the COVID protocols we have.
Everyone who is not fully vaccinated must show up to the school health center each Monday at 9 a.m. to get COVID tested, and if you miss it or don’t reschedule you are not allowed to practice for the week. Before entering the pool we must fill out a questionnaire from an app called LiveSafe and get our temperatures checked at the door.
The first day of practice was the hardest for me, since I didn’t have a pool to train in during quarantine. Since it had been over a year since I last swam, I jokingly told my teammates that I was going to drown and sink to the bottom of the pool. After practice, I could not feel my arms. I had definitely never felt more out of shape than in that moment. Despite that, it was exciting, knowing that I was going to be able to get back in the water and work out again and be fit.
“The hardest part was coming back after a full year of not having training,” said Bianca Sanchez, junior biology major.
Not getting to see my teammates every day was also hard. We had all grown so close, together spending hours on deck and even getting to go to Minnesota with one another in February of 2020, just before everything shut down. So when we were able to finally all see each other, even if it was socially distanced, it was really exciting.
We are currently still unable to do all the things that we want to in practice. We are unable to have physical contact with one another, which has made things difficult since we are a contact sport. Also, we can’t use balls or even put in goals. So at the moment all we are doing is swimming.
I am two weeks into practicing and feeling more and more in shape every day. Hopefully soon we will be able to play games again.
Sumiko Rudisky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.