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'It's just so awful and so unnecessary' | CMS athletes fear being left behind after cancelation

CMS swimmers hope their sport can resume amid the school district's new coronavirus restrictions.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Parents of CMS swimmers urged the Charlotte school district to allow their athletes to finish their season in a petition that has been signed by more than 2,100 people by Friday evening. 

The push to get athletes back in the pool comes after the North Carolina district canceled all extracurricular activities amid rising coronavirus trends. With exceptions already in place for state volleyball playoffs and cross country regionals, swimmers hope to also be included.

"We are in the midst of our championship season, we're so close to the end," said Amaya Hanley, a senior swimmer at Hough High School.

She understands the district's decision but is frustrated after all the safety precautions her team and others took. She said it's all been for nothing. 

"I was just crushed," she said. "It also just doesn't seem real."

For the award-winning, Duke University-bound collegiate swimmer, the pool is her home.

"It's a huge part of my life and it always will be a huge part of my life," Hanley said. 

She and her team's hard work throughout the season won't be put to the test on Saturday at conference. They won't go because of the district's decision. The meet, including regionals and state in February, will go on. 

"We do not want to be the district that just left out, sitting back watching all of our friends and all of these meets you know, happen without us," she said. 

Superintendent Earnest Winston said the decision was a hard one to make. 

RELATED: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools votes to keep students virtual until at least Feb. 15

"It has been agonizing, and heart-wrenching to have to bring such a recommendation in light," Winston told board members on Thursday morning. 

"It's just so awful and so unnecessary," said Dave Gilroy, whose daughter, Ava, is a junior and diver at Hough High School. She, too, is now forced out of the pool. 

"They've been using every possible precaution in terms of masks and social distancing," he explained. 

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He signed the petition that called on CMS to allow swimmers to "complete their conference and regional swim meets and participate in the NCHSAA state meet." 

The petition cites, allowing swimmers to compete would "align CMS to the rest of the state of North Carolina, which has continued to support swimming and allow the completion of conference, regional and state NCHSAA meets."

Amaya and others are hopeful CMS will reconsider so they will have the chance to compete in regionals and not miss their chance to compete at the state meet.