2022 European Aquatics Championships
- Thursday, August 11 – Wednesday, August 17, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Rome, Italy
- Parco Del Foro Italico
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- Event Schedule
- Live Results
It’s been a trying 2022 for one of last year’s biggest breakout stars, Barbora Seemanova.
The 22-year-old Czech swimmer had a monumental 2021, first winning a surprise European Championship title in the women’s 200 freestyle in May before placing sixth in the same event at the Tokyo Olympics.
But Seemanova hasn’t been able to carry her momentum forward into this year, dealing with a series of health issues since the Olympics that her coach attributes to a lack of rest after the Games.
The latest issue is Lyme disease, according to a report from Czech outlet Sport Aktualne, which has caused her to miss this year’s European Championships.
She first suffered a herniated disc in September, but still competed in the International Swimming League (ISL) season, and was beginning to feel ill at the European Short Course Championships in November. Despite her coach advising against it, she raced, winning silver in the women’s 200 free, and carried on into the remainder of the ISL season.
She then contracted COVID-19 which knocked her out of the 2021 Short Course World Championships in December.
Upon returning home, doctors found that Seemanova had pleurisy, which is when the pleural lining of your chest becomes inflamed and causes acute pain, particularly when breathing deeply.
The fatigue this caused resulted in a scary fall.
“After returning, she fell down the stairs and broke her ribs,” her coach, Petra Škábová, told Sport Aktualne. “The body was very exhausted. She passed out on the stairs and woke up downstairs. That’s a big exclamation point, not like this.”
Treatment and recurring problems in the aftermath forced her out of the World Championships in June, and she set her sights on Euros in August for her return to major competition.
She posted on Instagram in early May declaring her goal was the European Championships:
View this post on Instagram
But a tick gave her Lyme disease (also known as Borreliosis), which made it impossible for her to defend her 200 free title in Rome later this month.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by getting bitten by an infected tick. If it is treated early, it can usually be cured in 2-4 weeks for the majority of people.
“Borreliosis was a blow, because at that time she was already completely fit and in great training shape,” said Škábová.
After resting and taking antibiotics for three weeks, Seemnova passed all the tests and is now back in the water.
“She started light training last week. She is eager to work, but I encourage her to take it slow,” her coach said.
Škábová added that Seemnova has a long history of health problems that precede the issues that popped up in late 2021.
“We already experienced it in 2018, when she got severe mononucleosis, which disabled her from all movement for four months, and there was a threat that she would no longer be able to do sports at all. At that time, I threw her out of the pool because she did not listen,” Škábová said, adding that this time, he had to hold her back from training too hard too quickly once again.
In early August, Seemanova made an Instagram post declaring she was back in the water:
View this post on Instagram
The two-time Olympian has raced a handful of times this year, including two stops of the FFN Golden Tour in February and March, the Swim Open Stockholm in April, and the Barcelona stop of the Mare Nostrum Tour in late May.
She has also raced twice in Prague this summer, most recently at the beginning of July, indicating she likely contracted Lyme disease shortly thereafter.
Seemanova’s absence from the women’s freestyle events in Rome only further diminishes the field, as major names such as Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Femke Heemskerk and Federica Pellegrini have all retired in the last year, Sarah Sjostrom is only racing the 50 free and Pernille Blume has opted out of the event.
In addition to winning the 2020 Euro title (which took place in 2021) in the women’s 200 free, Seemanova was also a finalist in the 100 free (seventh) and 50 free (eighth).
After topping Pellegrini to win that 200 free gold medal by two one-hundredths of a second in 1:56.27, Seemanova brought her 200 free PB all the way down to 1:55.45 in the Olympic final to take sixth.