From age-groupers to Olympic gold medalists, swimmers around the world have had to adjust to life out of the water in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst these athletes there is a trio of Loughborough University swimmers who are finding unique ways to stay fit while remaining in their houses.
James Wilby, Abbie Wood, and Marie Wattel are showing off their drylands skills and creativity through the #trainathome campaign being run by the university. Wilby and Wood, both members of Team Great Britain, are currently training at their homes in England, while Wattel, a French national, has gone back to the Swiss Alps.
Wilby is an individual gold medalist from the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a relay gold medalist from the 2019 World Championships. On his current training situation, he says “Loughborough’s pool and gym provide some of the best training facilities in the world so now we’re in lockdown it’s certainly been difficult. I’ve been loaned a Wattbike, a rack and a bar and some high-quality weights…I’m fortunate and without these, I would be completely lost not knowing what to do.”
However, he is remaining positive in light of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games, stating, “The best thing to do now is to maintain and stay steady as going hard now may compromise us in the future. Being in a good place once we’re back in the water and having the ability to bounce straight back into it so that in twelve months from now, towards the final stretch of the Olympic Games, everything is absolute as you’d want it to be.”
Wood, a 2018 Commonwealth Games finalist, says that she still has her sights set on the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. On her mindset following the postponement, she says, “You’ve just got to take it in your stride as everyone is going through the same thing…Tokyo being delayed for a year is a bit annoying, but I’ve just got to think I have another year to prepare and build yet more momentum.”
Although she has been unable to swim, she says she’s still getting in plenty of training, “I’m currently based in my hometown of Buxton and we’ve been sent a weekly plan by our coach. The bodyweight circuits we do on a conference call all together so that’s been really fun.”
She also joked about going to practice in a very interesting place, “I’m definitely not going to swim in the reservoir in Buxton!”
Wattel, an individual 2018 European Championships gold medalist and a 2019 World Championships relay bronze medalist, says that she’s training rigorously alongside her sister. Speaking to her routine during this time she says, “I’m still trying to stay to three workouts a day – running 5-6km every morning, followed by a home gym session with a pull-up bar, and then cycling in the afternoon.”
After coming within .03 of a medal at the 2019 World Championships, Wattel says she’s hopeful for Tokyo, especially with an extra 12 months of training.“My goal this year was to make an Olympic final and now I’m thinking I may be better placed next year as it’s another twelve months in the bank. Hopefully, once I get back in the pool, I will be mentally fresh and 2021 will be the big one.”