'25 Yards of Normality' Examines Student Experience During COVID-19

When Josh Joireman ’23 was assigned a mini-documentary in his intro to video production class at Pacific University last fall, he thought he would make a short piece about his college swim team.

The end result — 25 Yards of Normality — was something different.

“It turned into the most meaningful project I have produced,” he said.

Filming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joireman was inspired by the team’s dedication — but ended up focusing on the perseverance of one student.

Julie Abrigonde '23, a second-year student from Reno, Nev., was living in Portland and studying at Pacific online, while traveling to campus for swim practices. She also was struggling with members of her own family fighting COVID-19.

“There’s days I don’t know how to feel,” Abrigonde says in the film, describing a year of stress and exhaustion. “The role of swimming in my life is an escape from stress and school and family, especially now with the pandemic.”

In a tragic twist, Abrigonde’s grandfather Romeo died of COVID-19 just hours after Joireman filmed her interview. He ultimately dedicated the film to Romeo.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to share Julie’s story and to remember her grandfather, Romeo,” Joireman said. “I had the opportunity to meet Romeo over the summer, and he truly was an amazing man. I know how much he meant to Julie, and that is what makes this film so meaningful to me.” 

Friday, Aug. 13, 2021