Loyola swim teams adjust to practice in off-campus pools


Gabrielle Korein

Loyola’s swim teams practice at the Ochsner Fitness Center on Oct. 10, 2021. They normally practice on campus, but were forced to move practice off campus due to the pool closure.

The Loyola swim teams are getting an extra dose of vitamin D and adjusting to new routines after being separated for weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The teams originally arrived on campus in August eager for the start of the season, but put a pause on their preparations when the university closed following the storm. They only had one week of regularly scheduled practices before evacuating.
When they returned to campus in September, they were notified that they would not be able to use the pool in the University Sports Complex for practice or meets for the rest of the fall semester due to damage from the hurricane.
As a result of this, they now commute to the Ochsner Fitness Center in Harahan, Louisiana six days a week for morning practices, where the swimmers said they take advantage of the outdoor pool to soak up some sun. On weekdays, they also travel within Uptown to Newman High School for afternoon practice.
Timothy Bussion, assistant swim coach, said he is grateful for the staff accommodating them and being responsive during this time of transition. He is also proud of how the swimmers have adapted to the changes.
“The team was never down. I never felt the attitude was bad,” Bussion said.
Megan Stempkovski, a first-year swimmer, said she likes the team’s new practice schedule and wants to stay positive about what’s going on around her.
“Adjusting wasn’t bad. It was nice,” Stempkovski said. “It has provided flexibility and has helped with the adjustment to school.”
Senior Anna Sitzman said it was difficult for her to get used to the new pool.
“It was harder to adapt at first because we are used to swimming at Loyola. I knew how many strokes I needed to take,” Sitzman said.
However, she said she has grown more comfortable with each practice.
“I am feeling encouraged. This is my last season. I want to pass the torch to the next person. I want to leave the best legacy possible,” Sitzman said.
The teams decided not to participate in their first scheduled meet of the season because it was only a few days after their return to campus.
Stempkovski said that they are working hard to catch back up before the next competition, and that the weeks off have given them “more time to be more motivated” and “time to reflect.”
The Pack will compete for the first time this year on Oct. 16 against Bethel University.
Both swimmers said they have also benefited from the adjusted schedule in unexpected ways. They use the bus rides and carpools as time to catch up on each other’s lives outside of swimming, and after practice the team sits together for breakfast.
“We need to support each other outside of the pool. That is the most important thing because we are people first,” Sitzman said.