Defending Olympic 50 free gold medalist Pernille Blume has been out of the water while recovering from a coronavirus infection in her native Denmark, she posted on Instagram on Monday.
The 26-year old Blume secured her 3rd Olympic qualification via a 24.28 second victory in the 50 free at the Mediterranean Open in Marseille from March 19-21. She also swam 53.73 in the 100 free at that meet.
Shortly after, however, she posted to her Instagram story that she was returning home to Denmark from her training base in Marseille, France. She did not include an explanation for why, how long, or with whom she’d be training, and several emails to her representatives went unreturned.
On Monday, though, she revealed that she has been battling a coronavirus infection and has been out of the water.
In the post, Blume says:
“I just wanted to give an update from me, since I’ve been very quiet lately. I’ve been sick with coronavirus, and finally I am feeling better. It’s been quite tough I think, it’s been a bit long, it’s been difficult to be isolated. I miss my friends and family, but it is what it is. It’s been really up and down, some days have been good, some days not. I’ve been sad that I haven’t been in the pool, obviously, but finally I am good, I’m feeling better, and hopefully I’ll be back in the pool soon. I need to do some checks for my lungs and heart, which is amazing that I’m able to do that, and hopefully everything turns out fine, and I’ll be back in the pool soon. I’m smiling because it makes me really happy and excited to be in my routine, and hopefully soon I can go back to France too, because I’m in Denmark, and I need to go back to France where I train. Crossing my fingers I can go back soon, and be back in my daily life, and see Flo (Manaudou) again because I miss him.”
She doesn’t talk about specific symptoms, when she first tested positive, or a specific timeline about returning to training, but seems to indicate that she’s feeling better and, pending medical checks, will be able to return to France. Her coach Julien Jacquier told SwimSwam over the weekend that Blume was expected back in France ‘this week.’
Blume underwent heart surgery in early 2019 to close a small hole in her heart after discovering she had a small pulmonary embolism (blood clot). Blood clots, a dangerous condition that can lead to death, have been one of the most serious symptoms of COVID-19.
Since the breakup of the Energy Standard training group in Turkey, Blume has been living and training in France with her French boyfriend Florent Manaudou, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 50 free.
Manaudou has not posted any indication that he tested positive for coronavirus after he too qualified for his 3rd Olympic Games in Marseille. His recent posts have indicated that he continues to train.
France is currently facing a new wave of coronavirus infections as vaccines are slow to roll out in the country. The most recent daily reported total of 61,000 new cases on Sunday is the third-highest daily total ever and the most the country has seen since early November. Deaths have not seen the same spike yet, though with previous waves we have seen deaths lag behind new cases.
The country is averaging just under 300 daily new deaths from COVID-19, part of almost 100,000 nationally since the pandemic began a year ago.
France is vaccinating its population at a rate of about 300,000 doses per day, which according to Bloomberg would mean about a 10-month timeline to vaccinate 75% of its approximately 67 million citizens. The country has given over 12 million vaccines in total.
France has imposed renewed nationwide stay-at-home orders and closures of non-essential businesses, schools, and daycares to try and battle the new wave, as have neighboring Germany and Italy.
Blume won Olympic gold in the 50 free at the 2016 Summer Olympics and added a bronze as part of the Danish 400 medley relay. At the 2017 World Championships, she also earned a bronze medal in the 100 free. At the 2019 event, after her heart surgery, she swam just one event, the 50 free, where she placed 4th in 24.12.
Blume is a 3-time relay World Champion in short course and a 6-time relay European Champion.
She has fought through multiple health issues, including her heart and a more recent ‘minor wrist injury,’ since the Rio Olympics. She was relegated to relay-only duty during the 2020 International Swimming League season for league runners-up Energy Standard. She was fit enough still, though, to swim 24.28 in Marseille in March, however, to lock in a spot on the Danish Olympic team – about half-a-second short of her best time.