Although a lot remains unknown about the upcoming season, Texas A&M swimmer Camryn Toney is determined to make the most of her final year on the team.
The kinesiology senior plans to compete in the 400-meter individual medley and mid-distance freestyle this season, but the schedule has yet to be released. The SEC announced Sept. 14 the 2020-2021 season can begin on Oct. 1.
“We have a great incoming class of freshman girls who bring great energy to the team, and we have a really great senior class who are great leaders both in and out of the pool,” Toney said. “I think this year is going to be really great and we’re going to attack it hard.”
As a seasoned veteran of the team, Toney said she is looking forward to seeing what the team is able to accomplish.
“With COVID, I think there is a very fair playing field between all the teams, and it’s anyone’s game right now,” Toney said. “I think we have a very, very good chance of reaching our full potential at the end of the season.”
Toney said improvement is always the team’s goal and she hopes to have no regrets at the end of the season.
“This season, one of my goals for the entire team is definitely to be able to sit down and say we did absolutely everything we could every single day,” Toney said. “If we do, then I think no matter what the outcome is, we should be happy with ourselves.”
Toney said the team is grateful to be able to swim right now, regardless of having to adhere to new restrictions and regulations in light of the ongoing pandemic.
“For now, we have to get a daily screening done through our phones. They ask us basic questions about how we’re feeling and if we have been in contact with anyone that has tested positive, and they take our temperature before we enter the facilities,” Toney said. “Once we’re at the pool, we have to wear our masks at all times, until we’re actually swimming, and we have split up how we do our lanes at practice.”
The new guidelines for practices include having one person on one side of the lane and two others on the opposite side in order to maintain social distancing.
“There’s a lot of safety regulations, but it really makes us feel safe,” Toney said.
Toney said having last season cut short and being sent home mid-semester was heartbreaking, but said she is incredibly lucky to be back in College Station doing what she loves.
“I think it made all of us realize that we have so much to lose here and that, just being here and being able to practice and see my teammates is a blessing in itself,” Toney said. “It makes me excited to come here every day because sometimes we can be in a rut of a routine, and it can be hard to be stuck doing the same thing every day. Last season, with having that taken away, I think it made us realize how much we actually love it and I think it’s going to make us even stronger this year.”
Toney’s love for swimming goes beyond the sport itself. She considers her teammates to be one of the most significant aspects of her college experience, both in and out of the pool.
“We’re all just so close, they have all touched me in different ways and I think they’ve helped shape me into the person I am today,” Toney said. “That’s what has really influenced my college experience here, the people that I’m constantly around. My teammates are like my sisters.”
Toney said her favorite memory with the team was an instance in which her teammates proved themselves to be more supportive than ever.
With the cancellation of the NCAA Championships last semester due to the coronavirus, Toney and two of her teammates were upset about the lost opportunity to compete. The girls decided they weren't going to let their season end in such fashion and planned to race unofficially at their home facility. Right before the race, the entire team surprised them by showing up to watch and encourage them.
“Nobody was obligated to come. We had only told a few people but everyone came to cheer us on, even the men’s team. That was something that was really special and it made my heart melt,” Toney said. “It made me realize like, wow, I am the luckiest person to be able to come here with these people every day, it just makes me so happy and grateful.”
Toney said she loves A&M and isn’t ready to leave Aggieland just yet. Although she’s unsure of what her future holds, upon graduation she plans on pursuing a master’s degree, possibly in kinesiology.
“I just love this place so much, I don’t want to leave,” Toney said. “Whatever happens, happens, but I’m going to try to stick around as long as I can.”