The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Swim team competes despite challenges

Abby Chesman
Members of the swim team practice outdoors at the JCC

For most winter sports, athletes either practice indoors or have the ability to dress appropriately for the brutal winter weather. But for the CESJDS swim team, with practices at the Bender JCC outdoor pool, their only option is to expose themselves to extremely cold winter temperatures while wearing swimsuits.

The swim team practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. However, the team can’t practice if the temperature is below freezing or if there is inclement weather. This severely limits the number of days the swimmers can practice throughout the season. As a result of this policy, the swim team faced a long stretch of no practice from mid-December until late January. Without serious training as a team, and with few practices, it will be exceedingly difficult to perform well as they near their championship meet on Feb. 8.

“It’s definitely a struggle,” junior Joseph Vaisman said. “All the other teams practice every day [at] indoor pools, and we only get to practice twice a week and it’s at an outdoor pool in freezing temperatures. So it’s a little bit difficult.” 

Vaisman believes that JDS is competing at a disadvantage, not just due to limited days to practice, but also because the JCC pool isn’t deep enough to practice diving. 

However, these challenges are not too easy to fix. The swim team used to practice indoors at the JCC, but the available times are not ideal since the JCC holds their own swim lessons. For example, when the swim team used to practice indoors, their practice would be on Sunday nights from 8-9 p.m., which was extremely inconvenient for the swimmers. 

While Director of Athletics Becky Silberman says that she and other administrators are always looking for other pools they can rent, they haven’t found one yet. 

There are also financial factors that play into these challenges. The swim team is the most expensive sport in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC). Due to the cost of renting pools for competitions, the fees to participate in the swim league are high. In addition to this heavy price just to participate in the league, there are additional costs associated with the swim team.

“It’s really hard without having a pool space that is more regular because we’re paying for the bus to the JCC, we’re paying for the pool rental, and we also right now have seven to 10 kids swimming, so it is a lot of money being put into not a lot of people,” Silberman said. “So I think if more people came out, [we could] put more into it.” 

Junior Hannah Kaffee says that she understands that it is hard for the school to solve the swim team’s problems since they aren’t a big team and that there just aren’t many options. 

On another level, Kaffee feels that the size of the team makes it hard to compete. The team consists of only three boys and seven girls. She says this creates a tight-knit community, but there are bigger obstacles that come as a result of it. While the team has enough people to compete, the more people a team has, the greater the chance they have of doing well. This has also been an issue in the past, when last year the team didn’t always have swimmers to compete in some of the relays. 

“When we’re going to these big championships, it’s harder to win these titles,” Kaffee said. “…It’s an individual sport, but it has the aspects of a team. So, when you have a small team, it’s hard.”

While most of the swimmers recognize there is little the school can do to solve the problems they are facing, they still hope for improved conditions in the future. A bigger team could lead to indoor pool space, resulting in more frequent practice, ultimately relieving them of some of their struggles.

“I feel like for us to compete on the same level as everyone else, we need to be at the same level for training,” Vaisman said. “And I think these changes are important so that we can actually compete.” 

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Gila Safra, Reporter

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