Argentina’s transition back to consistent training has been completed, as Agustín Hernández, the last Argentinian National Team member out of training, has returned to the pool. According to Gustavo Roldán, the main coach of the Argentine National Team, a core group of 8 Argentinian swimmers including Federico Grabich, Gabriel Morelli, Virginia Bardach, Macarena Ceballos, and Andrea Berrino have been training, limitedly, for about 10 weeks.
Exceptions were first made during Argentina’s 5-month long quarantine, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when Pan American Champion Delfina Pignatiello threatened to quit the sport entirely if she could not swim again. Then, on June 6th, the nation’s sports authorities announced that athletes who have Olympic qualifying times had permission to train under strict sanitary measures. Argentina’s three current Olympic qualifiers include Delfina Pignatiello, Santiago Grassi, and Julia Sebastian.
Now, backstroke specialist Hernández has joined the other Argentininan swimmers by resuming training at Club Santafesino in Nequen, Argentina. The city still maintains a strict policy that only allows citizens to leave their homes every other day, therefore his pool time is reduced to 50 minutes every other day.
After months out of the water, Agustín admitted, “When time went by, I thought about not swimming again, about leaving this. [translated]” Now with the ability to train again, he says, “I threw myself and my body missed that feeling, it was like being in another place. I need to regain my physical shape, my training pace, but being in the water is different. [translated]”
At last year’s Pan American Games, 19-year-old Pignatiello claimed 9 medals in total, including gold in the 400 (4:10.86), 800 (8:29.43), and 1500 (16:16.54.) This standout performance earned her the title of South American Female Swimmer of the Year at the 2019 Swammy Awards. Finishing her 2019 season ranked 5th in the world in the 1500 free, Pignatiello is definitely someone to keep an eye on next year in Tokyo.
Santiago Grassi, the 50 and 100 fly Argentinian record-holder, had his first Olympic appearance in Rio in 2016. Since then, he has been residing in Alabama, United States, as a member of Auburn University’s swim team, where he finished his NCAA career this February at the SEC Championships with 7 All-America Honors. In July, Grassi tested positive for coronavirus in July, but he has since been cleared and has resumed his training.
Within the next few days, another government measure will be put into place that allows all Argentininan national representatives to practice their respective sports and disciplines.