Katie Ledecky had reportedly turned to a backyard pool to swim last weekend. Simone Manuel, without a weight room available, piled books into a backpack and did lunges at home.
That’s been life for two of the world’s best swimmers for much of the last two weeks. No surprise, then, that they were relieved that the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021.
“I think that a lot of the athletes expected it, but I support today’s decision,” Manuel told NBC Olympic primetime host Mike Tirico. “The health of everyone is more important than the Olympics at this time. So I’m just excited that a decision has finally been made and we can move on and get prepared for 2021.”
No more uncertainty over whether to keep preparing for a potential June Olympic Trials. No more searching for pools around their base of Stanford University, which closed its athletics facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The search to swim brought Ledecky and Manuel to Menlo Circus Club, two miles up the road. That didn’t last. Ledecky and Manuel eventually turned to swimming in somebody’s backyard pool on a few occasions, according to the Washington Post.
“Honestly, it’s been more just therapeutic,” Ledecky said, according to the newspaper, which added she and Manuel considered relocating to Florida to find an Olympic-size pool. “It hasn’t really been training. It’s just been something to do, something to get our minds off the uncertainty that we’ve all been in these last 10 days or so.”
Manuel said that after Stanford’s pool closed two Fridays ago, a ripple effect of events essentially ended her training. She’s used to nine practice sessions a week — 22 hours in the water — and four more hours of dryland work.
“For a period of time we were being told that the Olympics are still on, and you’ve got to do the best that you can, so scrambling, trying to figure out what to do about training,” Ledecky said.
On a scale of one to 10, Manuel said right now she would be a three on the range of readiness to compete.
“Even if I am able to train, I’m training short-course yards [25-yard pools], and in no way is that going to allow you to win Olympic medals [in 50-meter pools],” she said. “I’m not able to lift in the gym, and so I’m really just putting books in a backpack and trying to do lunges.”
They can now exhale. It’s still unknown when Ledecky and Manuel can return to regular training, but the last two weeks put that problem in perspective.
“As we stand together to meet today’s challenges, we can dream about a wonderful Olympics in a beautiful country,” Ledecky posted on social media. “Now is the time to support all those working to heal the sick and keep us all healthy.”
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