Australian international Holly Barratt, the only swimmer to represent her country at the Short Course World Championships, still hasn’t been able to return to her home in Perth, Western Australia since December’s meet in Abu Dhabi.
Barratt left Perth in August and raced at the International Swimming League, FINA World Cup meets, and the Short Course World Championships. She has been able to return to Australia, but now plans to stay in Melbourne until (at least) the country’s World Championship Trials* in April.
*Reports emerged Friday that the 2022 World Championships would be pushed to 2023, which would eliminate the need for a Trials meet.
She originally planned to stay in Melbourne for “just a couple of weeks” to avoid restrictions that would have required her to do a hotel quarantine in Western Australia. Then the state announced that it was closing its borders until February 5, and now they won’t open until at least March, so she says she’s just planning to stay in Melbourne, for now.
In Australia, each state has its own rules about borders and inter-state travel to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Western Australia has maintained stricter protocols than most of the country, even after other states eased theirs, but those restrictions have been effective in reducing infections and deaths in the state: Western Australia has had only 202 COVID-19 infections, and 0 deaths, in the last 28 days, and only 1,348 infections and 9 deaths over the whole pandemic.
On average, that’s only about a .25 cases/100,000 population per day.
By comparison, Australia as a country has had 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 in the last 28 days, which is a rate of about 256/100,000 population per day. That’s roughly 1000x the infection rate of Western Australia.
Barratt is training with coach Craig Jackson at the Melbourne Vicentre Club. Jackson has trained at least 7 swimmers onto Australia National Teams, including most notably Mack Horton when he won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Jackson himself is a former elite swimmer, representing South Africa at the 1992 Olympic Games.
The 34-year old Barratt has represented Australia at a number of international events, and has amassed 31 FINA medals in her career. That includes a long course World Championship bronze at the 2017 meet as part of Australia’s 400 medley relay, and three medals at the 2018 World Short Course Championships.
In 2021, at 33 years old, she won the Australian Champion in the 50 fly, which makes her the oldest-ever Australian swimming champion.
Originally, Barratt was supposed to be joined at SC Worlds by countrymate Kyle Chalmers, but he withdrew because of lingering injuries. Barratt was left as Australia’s only representative at the meet when the country decided not to send an official squad. Her best finishes came in the 50 free and 50 back, placing 7th in each race.
Barratt is staying positive through the challenges.
“Yeah I’m just staying flexible – I think you have to with covid around!” she said, admitting that she’s preparing for the possibility that she won’t be able to get home before next season’s ISL and World Cup meets start again.
She says that even knowing she wouldn’t be able to return home, she wouldn’t have changed her plans for 2021.
“I really wanted to do the short course season after missing it in 2020, and it’s so much fun, it gave me my love for swimming back after wanting to quit in the middle of the year,” Barratt said.
Meanwhile, Barratt is missing her cats who are back home in Perth.