Youth: Meet Albert, a Swimmer for the Seattle Metropolitan Aquatic Club
Interviewer: Lillian Huang; June 17, 2020
Interviewee: Albert Cao
Albert Cao swimming at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center (Albert Cao).
Could you tell us about yourself and your swim club?
I am currently a sophomore at Newport High School in Bellevue, WA and a swimmer for the Seattle Metropolitan Aquatic Club. I swim and compete in all four strokes - back, breast, free, and butterfly. Before COVID-19, I swam three hours a day, six days a week. But because of this virus, I haven’t been able to swim in nearly three months. Today is actually going to be our first day back in the water since pools are reopening. However, our practices won’t be back to normal for a while and our practices will be limited to 50 minutes every other day in a restricted area of the pool. Seattle Metropolitan Aquatic Club coaches athletes ages 6-18 who compete at local, regional, and national level swim meets. SMAC used to be called Central Area Aquatic Team, but in the last year it’s grown into a much larger and much more reputable club.
How has COVID-19 affected your swim club and the way that it runs?
COVID-19 has affected my swim club in a few different ways. We weren’t allowed to congregate as a group for nearly 3 months, so we had to move many of our activities online. We had meetings twice a week over Zoom to check in with one another, discuss recent events, and review race strategies. Seattle Metropolitan has also hosted a few virtual workout sessions over Zoom, as well as Instagram Live videos about working out. In our transition back to team activities, we have been going to Seward Park in Seattle to exercise and work out together. However, this has also been difficult because of how much organization and discipline it requires. Our coaches have had to organize different sessions of people at different times. We have to stay six feet apart at all times, and we also need to fill out waivers and permission forms to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. Only a few people went initially because they didn’t perceive it to be safe, but more people began to go as the sessions went on. A bright side to this pandemic is that my swim club hasn’t had to furlough any of its staff members; we’re just trying to get through this outbreak as a family.
"...we’re just trying to get through this outbreak as a family."
It can be assumed that things will never be the same after COVID-19. How do you think society and the way that we interact with one another will change after this outbreak?
I think society and the way that we interact with one another will remain largely the same after this outbreak. However, we have to face reality and brace ourselves for the likelihood that Asians will experience an increasing amount of discrimination following COVID-19. But I think that as long as we continue standing up for ourselves, our friends, and our family, things will be okay. After all, I believe that the majority of people have been and will continue to treat Asians with respect and consideration.
"...we have to face reality and brace ourselves for the likelihood that Asians will experience an increasing amount of discrimination following COVID-19."
If you are willing to share, how has COVID-19 affected you individually and your family?
My family members and I have been very fortunate because COVID-19 hasn’t affected us physically. But just like with everyone else, my family has also been impacted in terms of extracurriculars and work. My brother swims too, so his swim schedule has been affected as well. My dad used to go to work every day, but now he only goes to work 3 times a week and works from home on the remaining days. On the days that he is home, his work isn’t as rigorous as when he works on-site. My mom has been impacted the least by this outbreak because she used to work from home anyway, so it hasn’t been a very big change for her. A silver lining of this outbreak is that we have gotten to spend more time together as a family at home. However, a con is that being at home with everyone all day can sometimes become overwhelming.
What is the greatest lesson we can learn from this outbreak?
I believe the greatest lesson we can learn from this outbreak is to appreciate the “normal” things in life, such as going to school, seeing our friends, and going to practice because as this outbreak has demonstrated, we may not always get the chance to do these things.