To keep up with teammates, P-P swimmers and divers pound out hundreds of burpees

The Pomona-Pitzer swim and dive teams celebrate after winning the 2018 SCIAC championships. (Photo courtesy of P-P Athletics)

Seasons ended abruptly for hundreds of 5C student-athletes in mid-March, leaving teams feeling empty and upset as life, and athletics, suddenly came to a crashing halt. But some teams, like Pomona-Pitzer swim and dive, are coming up with creative ways to stay connected and stay in shape in quarantine.

PPSD was set to compete in the NCAA championships March 18-21 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, just a week after the 5Cs announced remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester. 

“We were really excited to spend a week in North Carolina racing together at a meet we had trained for all season,” said Will Abele PO ’20, one of 17 Sagehens that qualified for NCAAs. “For the seniors especially, we were looking forward to the icing on the cake of our 15-year swimming careers.”

Anna Newman PO ’21 echoed Abele.

“The spread of reactions from our team is probably pretty similar to the spread of reactions across the 5Cs. I think everyone to varying degrees is trying to cope with the loss of the remainder of the semester as well as adjust to sub-optimal circumstances,” Newman said.

To keep in contact with the rest of the team, Newman and other juniors on the team devised the “Burpee Challenge” — a two-week challenge in which members of PPSD tried to complete as many burpees as possible. The catch: Each burpee had to be confirmed by another member of the team over Zoom or FaceTime. 

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Given the new circumstances, “we wanted to give people the option for organized exercise and team socialization in a way that was fun, competitive and feasible,” Newman explained.  

The team hoped the burpee challenge could provide “fitness, fun and family. The burpee challenge is therefore the epitome of PPSD,” Abele said. 

The team latched onto the idea.

“People were definitely trying to one-up each other,” Newman said. “There were some truly impressive performances and big upsets,” she added. 

The challenge lasted for two weeks, starting on the Monday of the first week of spring break.  Alex Gill PO ’22 and Abele were the winners of the women’s and men’s competitions with 1001 burpees and 703 burpees, respectively.

Newman thinks that the swim team might try another challenge soon, and added that other teams should consider something similar.

“I would definitely recommend a challenge like this for any team looking for a fun way to stay athletically and socially engaged with their teammates in a way that is safe and feasible given this moment,” Newman said. 

Abele said the challenge was key to keeping up with the team.

“We have a large and extremely creative team, and I have faith we will all remain connected and continue to engage in similar activities and challenges for much longer than just this semester,” he said.

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