The Forgotten Sport

The Forgotten Sport

Caroline Bryant, Staff

At CHS, attending sports events isn’t a choice, it’s obligatory; it’s like that chore you don’t mind doing at home. Every week, hundreds of students, families, and staff pack the stands overlooking Comet park, cheering on our football, soccer, and lacrosse teams. Whatever sport it may be, someone is always there in the crowd.

Consequently, sports that aren’t affiliated with the school are often ignored. Athletes that dedicate all their time and hard work towards the sport they love never seems to count. This is especially hard for swimmers, since the hours of practice they put in every day never gets recognized.

Catonsville sophomore and state championship swimmer, Sarah Buchman, criticizes the issue.

“I have been swimming since I was four because my older siblings did it,” she said. “The only people that really know I swim are my friends who swim with me. Others don’t know because I think people expect you to play something for the school, so it’s undermined by others.”

Buchman went to her first Maryland State championship for the 50-yard free when she was just 11 years old for the Catonsville Y. Towards the end of the 2018-2019 short course season, Buchman broke her personal best time of 26 seconds for the 50 free to an astonishing 25.7 seconds at the Y Maryland District Qualifying meet. Compared to the average 14-year-old, Buchman is 3 seconds faster in the 50 free. A few weeks later, she went to the state championships for the 100 free, 50 free, 100 back, and 100 fly.

Another USA swimmer, senior Makaela Hill, has been a part of the Retriever Aquatic Center for 4 years. Currently ranked 16th in the state, Hill has been invited to the some of the most prestigious meets in the country: states, sectionals, nationals, and futures. Ending the 2019 long course season on a high note, Hill finished 1st in the 15-18 50-meter free with a 27.37 at the Maryland State Long Course Championships. When converted to short course, her time is an unbelievable 23.83 seconds.

Though the two have done extraordinarily well, both wish they could represent their school the same way they do for their club teams. Since 2007, Anne Arundel County Public Schools has provided varsity aquatic sports for all of their high schools; just recently, Howard County Public Schools added club swimming, too. Frederick County houses pools in the schools themselves.

Surrounded, BCPS students can’t help but question why we don’t have a program ourselves.

“I would like to hope that it’s just because we don’t have access to a pool,” Buchman said, “but what I really think is that they believe it’s too difficult to organize.”

Unlike Anne Arundel and Frederick, Baltimore County Schools don’t already have a built-in pool. In response, swimmers would need to bus to and from public aquatic centers nearby. Fearing pool rental and transportation expenses, BCPS has abandoned the idea altogether.

“Their biggest concern is probably working and paying for another facility,” Buchman mentioned. “They don’t want to get into the technicalities of business.”

Hill agreed, mentioning that finding enough people may also be challenging.

“Yeah, it’s hard to accommodate enough pools for a county that is so huge, but I think it depends on the amount of people who would participate, too,” she said. “I only know a handful of kids here who swim. Though lots of people swim at club teams, the kids are pulled from all over the place. At RAC, there are kids from Howard, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, the city, etc.”

By focusing on the cons, it doesn’t look like BCPS is willing to establish a swimming program anytime soon. Like several other students, the two are irritated at the decision.

“Swimming isn’t only a great sport, but a valuable skill,” Buchman argued. “I’d be happier if we had a team because I’d feel more involved with the school instead of out of it.”

Plus, adding a team would provide a gateway for students who don’t have a special hobby, skill, or sport.

“When I started, I didn’t want to swim; it was kind of used to get me out of bed in the morning,” Hill said. “But now that I’ve done it for so long, I have fallen in love with it and want other kids to share the same experience if they were given the opportunity.”