Makepeace and company ready to return to nationals
By Collin Frazier
With the University of Findlay Swimming teams’ seasons just around the corner, Swimming Head Coach Andrew Makepeace is hoping to repeat the impressive feat he and the team had last year before COVID-19 suspended all athletics. The Oilers managed to send 10 of their swimmers to the national championships, with some athletes earning All-American honors.
Even with the cancelation of the season, in an email interview Makepeace says the athletes were not discouraged.
“It was a difficult blow [canceling the season], however, those still competing at NCAA’s [National Championship] were able to understand the magnitude of the situation and didn’t allow the cancellation of the meet to hamper their season,” Makepeace stated. “They chatted about the uniqueness of their situation, but saw that it wasn’t limited to just them. This impacted millions of athletes worldwide. Back in March, we didn’t know the severity of mortality the virus would encompass, so at the time it was just missing an opportunity, reflecting back, it’s [canceling the season] the overall health of others.”
That said, recovering from this will not be simple. However, Makepeace is sure that the team will adapt and grow to the ever-changing ways to stay safe.
“Rebounding will be tough and has been tough,” said Makepeace. “There are new restrictions and limitations we have had to overcome all summer and fall. We are no different than any other team, find ways to improve, develop, and grow in our sport, but we have to do it together.”
Even with the tough road ahead, Makepeace is sure that the team will make it back to the National Championship once again.
“I feel confident we will be sending a strong contingent once again [to Nationals]. We broke new ground last year nationally and those who are returning are excited about getting back to NCAA’s and being members of that party.”
With this new season, comes new faces to the team, and this year the team, specifically the men’s side, is looking rather young. Makepeace said he is looking forward to what these new swimmers can bring to the pool.
“They [the underclassmen] are all ambitious and talented,” Makepeace said. “So far, we have great energy which was carried over from last year. We need to ride that momentum and carry it during the difficult days of training. Youth brings energy, so definitely looking to build on that from the younger core.”
As well, the upperclassmen, in the midst of a pandemic, are showing great unity, strength, and leadership.
“The upperclassmen have had tremendous success in their time, so they have expectations they pass along,” Makepeace said. “That same group has also experienced strong culture and fractured culture. I am confident they want to maintain the strength and unity built off last year’s group. Their guidance has been influential during this challenging time.”
The team has had some positive cases of COVID-19. However, Makepeace explained how the team’s adaptability to the situation is becoming a norm for the athletes.
“That has yet to be seen on the big stage, however, their exuberance to just be around one another has made this season fun so far,” Makepeace said. “We had positive COVID results, we have seen a full team quarantine, we have seen practice times change, among others and all that has made them flexible and easily adaptable. In normal years, that could really shake their world up, but now, with everything they all have been through, it has become more normal to adapt for change.”
Although believing that more positive tests will occur, Makepeace believes the team’s best approach to preventing contraction is to follow the guidelines provided by the University of Findlay.
“[The team and I will] follow all the guidelines provided. There is no map, we have and will have positive tests. Our goal is to weather those storms when they interact with our team. No team will be immune, so we just preach what we can to ensure we have the opportunity to compete in 2020-2021. Some student-athletes around the country won’t be able to say the same,” Makepeace said.
“I am very proud of how our team has responded to all the changes 2020 has brought. We all wish it were different and would go back to normal, but we live in a new reality and the squad has adjusted quite well.”