In March, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announced the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo had been postponed to summer 2021. While the decision affected athletes around the world, it also had an effect on many IU swimmers and divers who are now restarting their preparation for the postponed games.
“Once we found out that the Olympics were being postponed it was definitely a huge downer,” redshirt junior diver Andrew Capobianco said. “After that, it took some time to mentally recover and rest.”
Capobianco is one of a handful of athletes on IU’s swimming and diving team that took a redshirt year during the 2019-20 season to prepare for the summer games.
Last year, he decided to forego the collegiate season to train for the 3-meter individual diving event. He returned to Bloomington from his hometown of Holly Springs, North Carolina, in April following IU’s decision to move classes online in March. Capobianco was forced to get creative with his workouts because he was unable to use a pool until late May in Seymour, Indiana, and did not dive at the Counsilman Billingsley Aquatic Center until July.
“We couldn’t dive for the first month that we were back here,” Capobianco said. “We had to keep up with our workouts, so we put mats in our backyard to keep practicing flipping, but obviously it was still hard not being able to be in the pool.”
Redshirt sophomore swimmer Michael Brinegar is another Hoosier who redshirted during the 2019-20 season. He, who hopes to compete in the mile and 800-meter freestyle in Tokyo, said he spent his year off completely focusing on his training and assessing both his strengths and weaknesses in the pool.
After pools nationwide began to reopen following shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Brinegar resumed a full workout schedule at his former club’s pool in Mission Viejo, California. Despite the setbacks he faced in training, Brinegar was named to the U.S. National Team last month and said he’s in the best shape of his life right now.
“I will have great competition here with the distance swimmers we have on the team,” Brinegar said. “I think it will be a really good year of training before the Olympics.”
Restarting Olympic training has been especially hard for collegiate athletes due to the limited interaction they’ve had with coaches during the pandemic.
IU swimming head coach Ray Looze said he had not seen any of his collegiate swimmers between the 2019-20 season, which ended march 13, and the 2020-21 season that started Aug. 31. But Looze said he has seen former Hoosiers currently training for the Olympics , including Zach Apple, Lilly King and Cody Miller.
Workouts leading up to the Olympics have been greatly reduced compared to a normal Olympic year, Looze said. In a typical year, Olympic swimmers have 10 in-pool workouts and three lifting sessions per week. But in 2020, swimmers have only gotten to work out four to six times per week.
Another big change for Olympic hopefuls has been the location of their training. With many pools closed for long periods of time since March, swimmers and divers have had to find new places to train.
Sophomore swimmer Emily Weiss said that she has trained at a friend’s pool, a lake in Yorktown, Indiana, Monroe Lake in Bloomington and IU’s club pool in Martinsville, Indiana since the season ended in March.
“Some people found a club team, some people found a lake or pond, some people didn’t do anything,” Looze said. “We really don’t know what to expect when we all get back in the water, but we do know that we’re gonna be dealing with people that have done a portion or nothing of what we typically would have done. It is what it is. People did the very best they could with very limited options.”