Swim caps, swimming goggles, and smiles returned to local pools last month after an unprecedented halt to the Reston area’s primary swimming program in 2020.
After the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the Reston Swim Team Association last year, the first hiatus in its 50-plus years of existence, the league has now resumed practices as well as competitions and opened up new programming.
“We are thrilled to be back in the water this summer,” Debbie Wagner, the group’s president, said in an email.
Changes this year include the introduction of a program called New Wave for those with basic swimming skills but who weren’t quite ready for a swim team. Wagner noted that the goal is for participants to join a team mid-season.
“We have welcomed many new swimmers to the league and it always amazes me to watch them grow and develop from the first night of practice through the end of our season,” Wagner wrote.
RSTA uses Reston Association pools and targets kids ages 6 to 18.
The group’s board of directors worked throughout the winter and spring to plan for a summer season based on input from members and lessons from what local club and high school teams were doing under COVID-19 restrictions.
“With restrictions loosening and COVID case counts dropping to low levels just before the start of our season, we were able to bring back much of what we typically expect from our summer swim season,” Wagner said in the email.
In April, the RSTA noted changes to comply included 10-foot social distancing, wearing masks immediately before and upon exiting the water, and conducting health screenings, among other measures.
Since then, Virginia ended all COVID-19 capacity and social distancing requirements on May 28 in response to declining COVID-19 cases and rising vaccination numbers. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has also now been authorized for adolescents 12 and older, though no COVID-19 vaccines are available yet for younger children.
Even though Virginia has ended its public health restrictions, RSTA has continued utilizing COVID-19 precautions, such as reduced team sizes and off-deck seating areas have sought to avoid crowds on the pool deck.
The league’s return was also made possible in part by support from local businesses that have served as sponsors, including Synergy Design & Construction as a gold sponsor, Glory Days Grill as a silver sponsor, and Stang Family Orthodontics as a bronze sponsor.
The sponsorships help fund operations, including scholarship opportunities to swimmers unable to participate without the financial help.
“The season has been going well,” Wagner said, “and our swimmers and families are excited to be able to be back in the water this summer.”
Photo via Pete Wright/Unsplash
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