will and lucie abele

Siblings Will and Lucie Abele

With the snap of a finger, the respective seasons for siblings Lucie and Will Abele were canceled

While Lucie's last practice with the Pomona Pitzer women's water polo team was March 11, Will's final competition of his collegiate career came at the SCIAC Swimming and Diving Championships (when/where).

Lucie, a sophomore at Pomona College, and her teammates didn't feel like the COVID-19 pandemic would affect their season.

"We'd heard about the virus growing, but didn't feel like it was going to impact our season until we were shutting down," said Lucie, who graduated from Peninsula in 2018. "We all assumed we were going to keep playing until the NCAA told us otherwise."

That fateful Wednesday was just like any other for Lucie. She walked into practice with her teammates, ready to prepare for its March 14 match.

"We walked into what was our last practice, and we were pulled into a meeting in the coaches office," Lucie said. "(Pomona Pitzer) decided to stop all spring sports."

It had been a promising season for Lucie to that point. She'd been named the SCIAC Athlete of the Week before the season was cut short.

The positive for Lucie: she'll be able to use a redshirt year for this season, as this season will not count against her NCAA athletic eligibility.

"It would have been devastating to lose the season after a year and a half of play," Lucie said.

Now back at home in (where), Lucie is still training when and where she can. As of Thursday, March 19, Lucie hadn't been in a pool in a week.

"I'm using what I can, and I'll swim in the ocean when it's not raining," Lucie said. "I've done some beach and neighborhood workouts, and our lift coach sent us a lot of workouts we can do at home."

For Lucie's older brother, Will, his swim season at Pomona Pitzer was canceled just as he and his teammates were preparing for the NCAA championships in North Carolina.

Able to compete in 23 of the 24 weeks of the season, Will was grateful to be able to compete as much as he did on the collegiate level.

"It's definitely a bummer not to have nationals," said Will, a 2016 Peninsula graduate. "The NCAA championships were canceled a few days before, and we were really looking forward to nationals all season."

If the chance occurred to compete in North Carolina, Will said he wouldn't give up the last three years for that chance.

"I'm grateful to have the season that we did have, and the past three years were great," Will said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Like Lucie, Will has been in constant contact with his swim teammates.

"Our team has been doing a burpee contest to see who can do the most burpees," Will said. "The entire athletic department has been in touch on zoom or social media to maintain physical fitness."

WIll also noted there were push-up challenges, looking to keep the student-athletes motivation high.

"We're doing what we can to stay in shape," Will said.

While at Pomona Pitzer, Will set records in the 200 butterfly and helped set an SCIAC record in the 400 freestyle relay and tied the 400 medley relay record.

Set to graduate in May, Will has yet to hear anything set in stone about Pomona Pitzer's commencement. He's currently working toward a bachelor's degree in both Math and Economics.

Despite an unexpected halt ending his senior season, it was the memories Will made at Pomona Pitzer that he'll always remember.

"It's all about the relationships (I made)," Will said. "With everything coming to an end so quickly, it showed me a lot of those relationships are bigger than swimming. The culture (at Pomona Pitzer) is nothing like I've seen in my 15 years of swimming."

For Lucie, her experience over her first two years on the collegiate level have been similar.

"All this is showing me how important the water polo community is," Lucie said ."I miss working out and the game the team and the coaches are the toughest for me not to be around."

One thing Lucie and her water polo teammates continue to do is send a weekly newsletter updating parents and alum of how the program is progressing.

"The newsletter is normally about players wiring about our week, and games or practices," Lucie said. "We've continued that even though we're not playing. The community is really important, and I'm really happy I've found such a great community to stay in touch with and keep connected."

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