Pandemic Swims Through, Washes Away Legacy of NPHS Aquatics


Julia Shearer

Ms. Tory Young in front of the North Penn swimming pool where a variety of aquatic sports and classes are held.

Since November of 2020, minimal interaction with other students, half covered faces, and strongly enforced separation has been the war cry for the revived in-person learning of North Penn High School. It is well known that every class in the district has been impacted by the grueling pandemic, but for Tory Young, an aquatics instructor, the entire face of swim class has changed. 

Adaptation was the mantra for every teacher pushing through the pandemic. For the aquatics teachers, it was all the more difficult to adjust to the lack of physical interaction, since that key aspect was what aquatics class revolved around. They lost the most important part of their job.

“It was really hard for us as teachers. For me personally, [interacting with students] is the thing that I enjoy the most and honestly do the best,” Young reflects, “we want to have that interaction, we want to build those relationships, and we want to help people to feel better and do better, and just get that sense of accomplishment, especially when it comes to something as unique as aquatics.”

Though there is a refreshing atmosphere of bringing every student of North Penn High back in person, Young and the aquatics department are still not fully satisfied with this year’s circumstances. Contrasting from previous years, partaking in swim class is now optional for sophomores.

“We are sad and disheartened with the decision,” Young said, “I am not only sad for me and my job, but I know how important activity is, especially in a pandemic.”

The importance of activity, particularly after a year and a half of people being more inactive than ever, is immense. It benefits not only teenagers’ physical health, but their mental, emotional and social health as well. 

“What we do is really important. It’s lifesaving, and it’s a life skill. We teach a lot of safety components, leisure activities, and lifelong activities that we are very proud of,” Young explains. “It’s so much more than just gym class or swim class.”

For the lucky students that opted to participate in aquatics, Young plans to demonstrate just how fun this class can be, while still providing a covid safe environment.

“We have to carefully make these changes, but we want to show everyone how fun swimming can be and what lifelong skills these are going to be for everyone,” Young informs. 

Tory Young may dream of reviving the required credits of swim class, but for now, the aquatics department is making the most of their challenging situation, and doing its best to ensure a solid future for North Penn’s aquatics curriculum.