Argentina’s Julia Sebastian, who has already qualified for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games, was able to resume her training at the Minas Tenis Clube in Brazil following a five-month long closure of the facility due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Belo Horizonte Club, home to one of Brazil’s largest swim teams, reopened on Monday, Aug. 31. Local legends such as Cesar Cielo, Thiago Pereira and Joanna Maranhao, among others, have been associated with the entity throughout time.
Julia Sebastian joined Minas Tenis Club last year after seven seasons swimming for Unisanta in her native Santa Fe in Argentina. Her move from Sao Paulo to continue studying in Belo Horizonte had an ideal debut at a competitive level, with a victory in the 200-meter breaststroke and a South American record of 2:24.92 at the Maria Lenk 2019 Trophy in Brazil.
A few months later, the 26-year-old Santa Fe native would once again break a regional record, this time in the 100-meter breaststroke after posting a 1:06.98 during the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima, where she would end up making three podiums, in addition to securing her spot at the Tokyo games.
With her two current South American records, Sebastian aspired to continue her progress throughout 2020. However, the pandemic broke out days before the South American Championship in Buenos Aires, leading organizars to cancel the meet. Further, the Argentinian breastroke ace was looking forward to compete in April at the Maria Lenk Trophy, this year called “Selectiva Olímpica,” which would’ve welcome seven Argentinians pertaining to five different club teams, including Delfina Pignatiello, who has also qualified for Tokyo 2020.
In recent days, the Brazilian Aquatics Sports Confederation (CBDA) announced the return to local competition with some regional competitions in November and, fundamentally, the rescheduling of the Brazil Trophy, based at the Vasco da Gama Club in Rio de Janeiro, from Dec. 9 to the 12th.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s national team just completed their return to the pool scarcely one month ago, when Agustin Hernandez managed to find a pool available in the municipality of Neuquén, his place of residence, in southern Argentina, although his training, for the moment, is still limited in time and self-financed.
Aside from Sebastian and Pignatiello, the other Argentine swimmer who has qualified for Tokyo is Santiago Grassi, who punched his ticket in the 100-meter butterfly. Student and representative of the University of Auburn, in the United States, Grassi was also out of the pool for several months, later contracting COVID-19, which he overcame a month ago.