By Shavonne Hansell
The USC sports facility was forced to close its doors midnight March 22nd.
Paralympian swimmers at the University of the Sunshine Coast will continue training off-campus for the 2021 Tokyo Games, despite the Australian Government’s decision to lockdown recreational facilities amidst COVID-19.
Following advice from the Federal Government and Swimming Australia, the University suspended all sports activities and training in the hope of containing the viral spread.
Paralympian team head coach Nathan Doyle said his department had created alternative land-based exercises and encouraged his swimmers to keep fit without putting themselves at risk.
“We have implemented at-home training with athletes doing gym work and mobility,” he said.
“The key priority is the health and safety of our athletes.”
Paralympian swimmer Braeden Jason won gold in the 2018 Pan Pacific Para Championships and placed 5th, 6th and 7th in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
He said although he did not have access to a pool, he followed a land-based workout provided by coaching staff to exercise his shoulders, which are crucial for swimming.
“I’m still doing my best to stay fit, strong and healthy from the confines of my living room,” he said.
Jason said he was relieved to hear the Games were postponed rather than cancelled, having trained four years for the event.
“The Paralympic and Olympic Games are the pinnacle of our sport,” he said.
“It’s the big dance.
“So, although it’s difficult to try and refocus for the games next year, I am definitely relieved that there will still be a Games.”
For now, Jason said he has quelled the isolation blues and kept busy with various hobbies such as playing guitar, watching Netflix and keeping on top of his studies.
Katja Dedekind, another Paralympian champion on the Spartan swim team, has Olympic gold and bronze medals under her belt.
She is no stranger to the hard work elite athletes have to put in.
“I swim pretty much every day, sometimes twice a day,” she said.
“I have gym three times a week and conditioning on the afternoons that I don’t swim.”
She said it was “weird” not attending training and seeing her teammates.
Her division trials were set for June but she’s confident new dates would be announced in the coming year.
“I think that when we are able to access all our facilities again then we will be full speed ahead into the old program,” she said.
“At this point in time, I am just trying to stay fit while having a short break.”
In the current crisis, Doyle said the community needed to band together and make our loved ones our main priority.
“Look after one another, look after our responsibilities at home, our families,” he said.
“We will take stock and work through a plan that will see us be more prepared for the 2021 Games.”