With the worldwide coronavirus quarantine forcing top-level swimmers to find alternate ways to train and race, a few top-level talents are making do with an Arizona backyard.
Canada’s Olympic bronze medalist Taylor Ruck is the headliner. The 19-year-old rising star was set to be one of the most exciting young swimmers in contention for this summer’s Olympic medals after winning 8 Commonwealth Games medals and 5 Pan Pacs medals in 2018, followed by three 2019 Worlds bronzes on relays.
Ruck was previously training at Canada’s Ontario High Performance Center, but that group was sent home last week after Canada canceled its Olympic Trials and later announced that the nation would not participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics as they are currently scheduled.
Ruck returned to Arizona, where she swam as an age grouper and high schooler. She’s now connected with Nate Moore, a longtime club coach in Arizona.
Moore is coaching a small group of swimmers out of a backyard pool – the pool itself is owned by the Kim Courtney Swim School, an early swimming spot for a young Ruck. The group also includes Arizona state champ, high school senior and West Virginia signee Dylan Melin and BYU junior Connor Stirling, who trained with Moore in high school.
While making sure to not exceed group size limits recommended by the CDC, Moore says his group is finding a way to train – and also a way to stay connected in the midst of the pandemic.
“We all work together through adversity,” Moore said. “We support each other, and we want to stick together to work through any difficulties.
I guess what this is really all about is all of us coming together from all different directions because we all share goals of working hard, doing everything we can to train in a safe environment, and being there for each other so we all know we are never alone.”
Check out this race video of the three, competing in a 40-yard race – two laps in the 20-yard backyard pool. Stirling is in the middle lane, Melin in the closest lane to the camera and Ruck in the far outside lane at the top:
Below is a photo of the group, plus Moore’s garage, which is the team’s makeshift weight room.