University of Louisville head coach Arthur Albiero held a teleconference on Thursday, along with his son Nick Albiero, discussing the situation he and his team find themselves in amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“Weird times for all of us. Obviously today’s Thursday, this would’ve been the day for women’s NCAAs. 200 IM, 500 free and 50 free, and 400 medley relay and 200 free relay. Not that I’m keeping track of that,” Albiero joked as he opened things up.
The coach spoke about how difficult it was finding out about the cancellation of NCAAs, and relaying that information to his swimmers.
“Ultimately, it was a blow,” he said. “All I could share with the team…there’s not a lot of words. Mostly tears, to be honest, for what was lost.
“Our sport is so unique in the sense that we gear up for, really, very few opportunities in the entire season. We feel strongly, certainly as a staff and as a team that we hadn’t really shown our cards, and that’s what we’ve done best. We’ve been an NCAA team, and that’s where we’ve been a success the last three years. It’s tough not to be able to do that, but again, pretty soon you realize it’s much more than swimming.”
In terms of how the Cardinals are dealing with training, Albiero said that, as is the case with most schools, the majority of the student-athletes have gone home.
“Some are able to have access to facilities, and I would say 75% or so are not,” he said. “So its dryland work, and some band work, cords, and different things you can do outside of the pool.”
As for those still in Louisville, which includes post-grads, international students who were unable to go home, or local swimmers on the team, Albiero is working to find lanes to swim in. But it hasn’t been easy.
“The university is on lockdown right now, so we don’t have access to anything,” he said. “We’re scrambling throughout our city here to be able to find a lane or two here and there, mostly private facilities that certainly we have some connections that are able to accommodate.”
He also mentioned that his groups have “18 Olympic hopefuls” who he’s focusing on getting access to facilities and sending practices to if they’re not still in town. Among the pros who train under Albiero include 2016 Olympic gold medalist Kelsi Dahlia and seven-time LC World Championship gold medalist Mallory Comerford.
For many, Albiero notes that this past week has been viewed as a week off, and that’s fine. But moving forward, they’re going to need to start figuring out what comes next.
“As next week shows up, the pinch is going to be felt more than ever that we need to come up with a better plan for everybody. And the fear is I don’t know that we have any answers right now.”
Albiero also spoke on the Olympic Trials and the Olympics, saying that the recent IOC statement that the Games will go on as planned “seems a little tone-deaf.”
“There’s plenty of countries that don’t have access to any facilities whatsoever right now, they’re in lockdown, especially those in Europe,” he said.
“I think it will be irresponsible to keep things as is and say that on July 24 we’re going to have the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. That seems very not fitting to the reality we’re all experiencing right now.”
Ultimately, however possible, his plan is to keep his swimmers prepared for whatever comes next.
“The worst thing we can do is just get up and say ‘Everything’s going to be cancelled, so what’s the point?’, I don’t think we can go there. I think we’ve just got to get up and say ‘You know what, probably there’s going to be some delays’,” he said.
Nick, who was slated to enter his third NCAA Championships as the top seed in the 200 fly and tied for first in the 100 fly, also joined the teleconference towards the end. The US National Team member spoke about his emotions finding out NCAAs were cancelled, the training situation moving forward, and what his event lineup and strategies would’ve been had NCAAs gone on as scheduled.
You watch the full teleconference below: