OCEAN PINES — Although the setting was a little unconventional, the Ocean Pines Swim Team (OPST) last week honored two of its graduating seniors who missed out on what would have been their last summer season with the club because of COVID-19.
Like many student-athletes in the area, the last few months of their high school year was quite different because of the coronavirus and the associated restrictions in place. OPST athletes and Stephen Decatur High School swim team members Richard Poist and Kiley Hamby missed was to be their last season of summer swimming when the Delmarva Swim Association followed the lead of USA Swimming and made the decision to cancel the summer season due to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19.
During the last home meet of each summer season, OPST traditionally recognized graduating seniors. There would be a break in the meet with families, teammates and coaches gathering around the pool deck and the team would recognize each senior athlete as they stood on a starting block. This year, although not during a meet but still surrounded by mask-wearing teammates, family and coaches, the OPST hosted a Senior Send-Off to recognize Poist’s and Hamby’s commitment to swimming and the club.
“It’s important for teammates to see their success and hear how much swimming has meant to Richard and Kiley through the years,” said Coach Kim Wanner.
Poist began swimming with OPST in fifth-grade and as a member of the Decatur swim team all four years of high school. He served as team captain in his junior and senior year and qualified for and placed at the Maryland High School State Championships. He will attend the U.S. Naval Academy.
Hamby also joined the OPST in fifth-grade and was a member of the Stephen Decatur swim team all four years of high school. She as four-time state qualifier and served as captain in her senior year. Hamby will continue her education in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Delaware, where she will also continue her swimming career for the school’s club team.
For OPST Coach Kristina Watts, seeing Poist and Hamby graduate was special because she started with the club the same summer they did. Watts said she was proud of the young adults they have become.
“I have been able to watch them grow from timid swimmers to leaders of the team,” she said. “I’m going to miss seeing them every day, but I am excited for their futures.”