The postponement of this year’s Olympic Games, due to have started in late July, has had a massive effect on a multitude of athletes, among them star Madibaz swimmers Alaric and Alard Basson.
The Uitenhage-based twins, 24, had been lining up an assault on the South African Olympic trials at this time, but instead find themselves having to come up with innovative ways to stay fit during the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.
Their aim was to achieve the qualifying times for the Games, but they now have to reassess the situation in the face of an altered future.
After some debate last month the Tokyo Olympics organisers postponed the Games to July and August next year because of the coronavirus pandemic and Alaric said it had left them with various issues to consider.
“It’s easy to say ‘look at the bright side, you have a bit more time to prepare’,” he said. “But the reality is that we, like everyone else, aren’t able to prepare the way we would have liked or the way that was set out for us.
“Now we are a bit on the back foot and have to completely change our way of training and preparing.”
He acknowledged that it might help those who had pools, but most swimmers were in a similar position during lockdown.
“Having spoken to some swimmers, it’s clear to see we are all affected by this. But we are definitely staying positive by tackling what is in front us and doing what we can. This is not a time for relaxing and laying back.”
Although the Olympics are next year, Alaric, whose specialty is the breaststroke event, said it would still be challenging for them if the SA trials took place this year, possibly in June.
“It could be a bit difficult seeing that we would not have been in the water for nearly a month.
“And then I’m not sure if the time that’s left for preparation will be enough because obviously we don’t know how this will affect the way we feel in the water until we eventually get back into a pool.”
However, with qualifying for the Olympics still his top priority, Alaric said he was focused on staying positive.
“We are trying our best to adapt in this time and come out of it as best we can so that when we get back in the water we are as fit as we can possibly be.
“The Olympics is the ultimate goal so I will continue striving for that.”
An accomplished butterfly exponent, Alard said he was trying to use the break to seriously consider how he would go about achieving his ambitions.
“I understand it has severely impacted on our training but I do feel that this period has given me a lot of time to reflect, visualise and analyse more on various aspects within my sport and my approach.
“My goals haven’t changed. I still want to achieve those and while the physical side has been disrupted my focus has not changed.
“Competing in an Olympics is the dream and it is a goal I have been working towards for most of my life. To get discouraged now because of the situation we find ourselves in, and letting that affect my preparation, I would be doing myself a great injustice.”
He agreed with Alaric that there would be an unknown factor when they resumed swimming regarding their fitness levels.
“But we are doing the necessary strength training and focusing on getting stronger to put ourselves in the best possible position when we get back into the pool after the lockdown.”