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Carlsbad High School
Members of the Carlsbad High School swimming, diving and water polo teams used some of their free time to make a creative video while at home after the season was canceled. Coach Patty Kraatz also used time to celebrate the senior class. Courtesy photo
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Carlsbad High swim coach connects with seniors after lost season

CARLSBAD — Athletes across the country have lost their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for Patty Kraatz, head coach of the Carlsbad High School swimming and diving team, it meant likely losing a CIF title, as well. With a team of 115 swimmers and divers, the Lancers had the talent, depth and drive to wins its first sectional championship since 2014.

But with the students at home and tons of energy waiting to be expended, Kraatz wanted to reach out to her athletes for a creative video. She said 52 replied back with short clips of them skateboarding around the house, “swimming” in grass, mowing the lawn, dancing, in the shower and much more, all while sporting their CHS swim gear.

The video soundtrack uses “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.

“It was hysterical,” Kraatz said. “This year we were on track to win a CIF title. This was a really exciting season and everyone was motivated and passionate. To have this pandemic come across the table, they were just lost.”

Her youngest son, Kevin, edited the clips as a tribute from Patty Kraatz to her athletes and their lost season.

One of the stars of the video is Carolina Rebaza Salizar, a normally quiet kid, Kraatz said. Salizar, though, stands out for “swimming” on her front lawn going through all the strokes looking like a fish out of water.

“She’s the best,” Kraatz said. “She’s probably one of my most reserved student-athletes. She had me crying I was laughing so hard. I definitely didn’t expect that to come from her.”

She said the toughest part of the season has been the lost opportunity for her senior class, which has 16 swimmers including Connor Mes and Charlie Stewart, both of whom will swim in college next year. Mes will compete for the College of William & Mary, while Stewart will suit up for Eastern Illinois University.

Kraatz also kept in contact through email with the whole team, but then redirected her energy to the seniors since their Senior Day would be modified and they may not be able to walk for graduation. Kraatz’s oldest son, Riley, is a senior, so the coach has seen first-hand the impact of a lost season on students.

In addition to the video, Kraatz also made gift baskets complete with a personalized yard sign for each senior.

“This overwhelming sense of loss and my seniors’ loss is just sitting with me,” Kraatz said. “I have this motto — I care more about your character than your athleticism because your character will last you a lifetime and your athleticism can be gone tomorrow.”

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