Delaney Wesolek jumped into the sometimes chilly waters of Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron.
Lindsey Case and Jacob Peterson awoke before the crack of dawn to train at private pools in Detroit, Michigan and San Antonio, Texas, respectively.
This summer, Hope College student-athletes needed to get creative with their offseason training amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With indoor pools and indoor workout facilities closed by state orders across the country, their usual routines disappeared.
So, first-year Hope College swimmers such as Case, Peterson, and Wesolek found new ways to work out.
“I learned how much I love my sport and the smell of chlorine, but more important is the love I have for the people that swimming has brought into my life.”Hope College freshman swimmer Delaney Wesolek
Lindsey Case: Plymouth, Michigan
“I had no access to pools for a little more than three months. That was the longest time I was out of pool training in at least eight years,” said Case, a freshman from Plymouth, Michigan (Farmington Hills Mercy HS).
To compensate during the spring, Case did online cardiovascular workouts, bike rides and runs.
In June, the dry stretch ended. Case received an invitation to join her club team in training at a local country club’s outdoor pool — but with another less-than-ideal condition. There would be no more hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock.
“Our practice started at 4:50 a.m. and 6:25 a.m. each day of the week except Fridays,” Case said. “Even though I had to wake up very early for practice, I was just grateful that I had a pool to swim and train in for my upcoming college season. When I first got back in the water, I felt pretty good and got into shape fast. On Mondays, we had doubles and all the other days we just had mornings. I like feeling tired after I work out because it feels like I worked hard and made myself stronger, and swimming gives me that feeling.
“When returning to the pool to start training regularly again, I think I will be in good enough shape to train to the extent I was before, and still improve each practice. I am so excited to get back into training for this upcoming season.”
Case and her Hope teammates are scheduled to begin training indoors at Hope’s Kresge Natatorium inside the Dow Center next week since Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order reopened gyms and pools across Michigan.
Earlier this month, both Hope swimming and diving squads held a training session outdoors at the City of Holland’s Bouws Pool, which is located near campus.
Jacob Peterson: San Antonio, Texas
Peterson faced a similar scenario as Case’s. The freshman from San Antonio, Texas (Winston Churchill HS) saw his club program shut down when its indoor pool closed.
He and his brother were fortunate, he said, to find a private outdoor pool away from their neighborhood that would allow them to swim.
“We had to get a membership to use the pool, and we were only able to swim from 7-9 a.m.,” Peterson said. “However, the pool board members of that neighborhood were gracious enough to let us join and use their pool, even though we did not live in the neighborhood. Having the opportunity to train, even without a coach, proved to be an invaluable opportunity considering that most swimmers in San Antonio did not have access to a pool. I feel very confident coming into my freshman year at Hope. I am in shape and ready to swim, thanks to that opportunity.”
Wesolek felt like “a fish out of water” after losing the ability to train with her high school and club teams. The freshman from Bay City, Michigan (John Glenn HS) rode her mother’s Peloton bike and did weightlifting in her family’s basement instead.
Delaney Wesolek: Bay City, Michigan
In May, Wesolek learned her community center would not open its pool for the summer. Without access to a private pool, she was on dry land and growing frustrated.
Then, the thought of swimming in Saginaw Bay — first joked about by her club teammates — became reality. Ten of her peers also purchased wet suits and started swimming in the bay.
“I remember the first day we swam. We were all freezing and I’m not sure I could feel my toes because the water was so cold,” Wesolek said. “I was so happy just to be able to swim. We marked out 50 meters and the length of a mile swim. We swam five to six days a week from the middle of May until I left on August 11 to come to Hope College.
“We had an awesome group of parents and grandparents that watched us and made sure everyone stayed safe. I don’t think I will ever look at the Saginaw Bay the same. We had days where we were swimming in 5-foot waves and our suits would be filled with seaweed and algae, but we had a place to swim and that was all that mattered.”
An unforgettable summer expanded Wesolek’s gratitude for everyone and everything around her.
“I know that God answers prayers in very strange ways sometimes. I prayed for a pool, but he gave me a beautiful summer with near perfect weather to train in the Saginaw Bay,” Wesolek said. “I know I am not where I had envisioned being as I start my freshman year on the Hope Swim and Dive team, but I know I learned a lot of valuable lessons this summer.
“I learned how much I love my sport and the smell of chlorine, but more important is the love I have for the people that swimming has brought into my life. I learned how much love and support surrounds me. My high school teammates and club teammates are some of the best people I have ever met. We pushed each other and did as much as we could to prepare each other for what was in front of us. We learned to be resilient and to lean on each other.
“I learned that sometimes you have to adjust your plans and set new goals. And sometimes you need to be flexible and get creative,” Wesolek said. “I am excited to take all the lessons of summer 2020 and apply them to my next four years here at Hope College.”