Swim Team Speaks Up: The Water Warriors’ Take on the Lack of On-Campus Practice Space

Volleyball, lacrosse, baseball, and soccer: what do all of these NAHS sports have in common? Besides the fact that they all require a ball, they also all have a “home field” where they can hold practices and games on campus. While these teams may sometimes find it difficult to share these spaces, this is a struggle that North Atlanta’s swim team wishes that it had. For the swim team, the “home field” advantage is simply a pipe dream. Contrary to the age-old Dub legend of the pool on the roof of the school, the Water Warriors have to make the trek over to Chastain Park every weeknight in the winter to practice. 

The complaint common of all swimmers when they think not-so-lovingly of Chastain pool is that it is outdoors. While this would not pose an issue in most seasons, high school swimming is a winter sport, which lasts from October to February, and sees many dark, frigid days along the way. And providing only minimal refuge from the winter air, the giant tent installed around the pool is far from ideal for swimmers in wet suits. “I dread heading over to practice at Chastain on a cold day,” said sophomore Annie Neufeld. “It’s not so bad once you’re in the pool and warmed up, but getting in and out of the water is not something that I look forward to.”

Another one of the Water Warriors’ grievances is the inconvenience of their practice time. The team has to share the pool with other teams, namely Whitefield Academy, Chastain’s year-round swim program, and the emerging Sutton Middle School swim team. Chastain’s year-round program gets priority, so the North Atlanta team has to wait until 7:15 to start practice, and often doesn’t leave Chastain until around 9. “I have a lot going on aside from swim team, like my job and college applications,” said Senior Matt Maiellaro. “Practicing so late at night at a pool that isn’t very close to my house makes it difficult to get anything done.”

However, not all is lost. The Warriors are still able to host some of their own “home” swim meets at Washington Park. While Washington Park is far away for most, it is a huge facility that allows the team to host a big season-opener invitational every year. This meet is a great opportunity to swim against APS teams and other schools in the area, and make proceeds that help fund our swim program. Swim meets like these have inspired NAHS swimmers, like sophomore Reagan Lerner, to take their swimming to the next level with Chastain’s year-round program. “Swimming year-round with Chastain is a great opportunity to get in shape before high school swimming even starts, and has prepared me to swim some longer distance races, like the 500 freestyle,” Lerner said. 

All things considered, the Water Warriors have made the best of the situation. The team’s performance has not at all been hindered by the lack of a true “home pool”, with an ever-improving program that sends more and more swimmers to state championships every year and has many consecutive city championship titles. While the legend of the pool on the roof may never come true, a team can still dream (and use it to trick the freshmen).