Argentinian Swimmers Continue Training Towards 2021 Games Amid Quarantine

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, Argentinian swimmers have also been impacted and forced to alter their training plans. Such confinement has forbidden national team members from the ability to train in a pool, as other nations have. On March 20, the nation’s government issued a quarantine order, which would forbid athletes from remaining on their training plans. Prior, the  South American Championships in Buenos Aires, which were initially scheduled for the last week of March, wound up being canceled.

Resulting from the confinement, all training facilities have locked down, compromising athletes’ aforementioned training plans. This included Argentina’s national training center, the Centro Nacional de Alto Rendimiento Deportivo (CeNARD). In exchange, the training facility has become a temporary hospital where those affected by COVID-19 can heal from the virus.

In this context, Delfina Pignatiello was one of the first swimmers who began to share her training routines adapted to her home. The three-time Pan-American champion, who made history for Argentinian swimming in Lima 2019, will have to postpone her expected Olympic debut until July 23 of next year, when the rescheduled Games are set to begin.

“We are in a complicated scenario with permanent adaptations,” said Argentina’s national team head coach Gustavo Roldan.”The new date chosen by the IOC for the Olympic Games is the most successful, which the aquatic community has celebrated, providing athletes with sufficient time to prepare once more, also allowing for time to reschedule the Olympic qualifying Trials and rebuild the national team.”

Argentina’s Aquatic Sports Federation, Confederación Argentina De Deportes Acuáticos (CADDA), took advantage of these days to post on social media a message from its athletes, becoming aware of the situation that sport and all humanity face on a global scale.

Three Argentinian swimmers have already earned their quota spots for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Pignatiello, who during the Lima 2019 Pan-American Games qualified for the 400, 800, and 1500 free, is joined by Julia Sebastian, who currently trains with the Minas Tenis Club in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and the 100-butterfly ace Santiago Grassi, who currently swims for Auburn University in Alabama.

In light of the South American Championships (Argentina) and Maria Lenk Trophy (Brazil) cancellations, the only championships awaiting cancellation confirmation is the Argentinian National Championship, which is scheduled for the month of May. Further, the Short Course World Championship meet is scheduled for the month of December in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“Considering that after this quarantine period the countries will need some time to prepare their respective 2021 Olympic Trials in a 50-meter pool, the Short PoolWorld  Championship will probably not be as attractive,” Roldan said, who also coaches the Villa Ballester German Gymnastics Society (SAGVB) club team, whose roster includes, among other swimmers, Delfina Pignatiello, Virginia Bardach, Macarena Ceballos, Juan Ignacio Méndez and Joaquín Gonzalez Piñero, all of which are current national record holders.

Gustavo Roldan (left) along with the national squad that represented Argentina at the Lima 2019 Pan-American Games. Courtesy of Prensa CADDA.

Prior to planning for next season, FINA must decide in the next few days when the Fukuoka 2021 World Cup will take place. The new dates for Tokyo 2020, also in Japan, overlap with the current set dates for the long course world championship. Once that problem has been solved, it will present a clearer picture for the world of swimming.

Argentina has been on national lockdown since March 20. Per the website worldometers.info, the nation has a total of 1,265 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 39 fatalities.

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