As coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-related lockdowns are easing up around the world, national organizations are releasing information and recommendations on how to safely return to both life and sport.
Specific to swimming, we’ve seen federations publish safety guidelines and coronavirus-battling protocols in the interest of keeping athletes healthy as they transition into their pre-pandemic training regimens.
This week the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF) published their own summary of steps for aquatic athletes to slowly ramp up their training; however, the organization was careful to include valuable insight into the psychological factors coming into play when athletes return to sport from a long, involuntary hiatus.
Based on studies performed by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa), the JASF extrapolated psychological stages observed in injured athletes and applied them to the current scenario of swimmers having been involuntarily removed from their sport due to coronavirus.
For instance, the pathway that some athletes may be experiencing during the coronavirus impact include the following:
Denial – Anger – Depression (Regret) – Recognition – Acceptance
Further, the JASF recommends continuing to assess swimmers’ states of mind when returning to sport, encouraging the recognition of small steps and victories to promote self-efficacy.
Denial, anger and depression were essentially the feelings two-time 2019 world champion Daiya Seto said he felt upon hearing the decision that the 2020 Olympic Games in his home nation would be postponed one year.
As we reported in April, Seto said at the time, “It’s been two weeks since the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. After that, the national championships [Japan Swim] were also postponed. I have not been able to say anything about next year until now because I just could not come to grips with everything.
“There was no way I could bring myself to talk about next year and honestly, I’m still struggling to pick up the pieces and regroup.”
You can view more on this psychological pathway via the original study’s article published here.