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Olympic training in lockdown

12 May 2020

Laura Stephens

How are athletes training for the Olympics during the COVID-19 lockdown? Athletes all over the world must stay away from their facilities, and adopt a new lifestyle at home. The break of routine is something many have not experienced in some years.

Based in Plymouth, Laura Stephens is an Architectural engineering student, British swimmer and Funkita athlete with a dream of swimming at the Olympic games for Team GB. Her passions include writing, reading, architecture, sports and chocolate. Okay maybe chocolate isn't a passion but she really does like it. Read on as Laura answers some questions below about training in lockdown.

What does a normal week of training look like?

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday involve 2 x 2.5hr training sessions in the pool, and 1 x 1hr training session in the gym. Wednesday and Saturday I only have one 2.5hr session in the pool. Sunday is a rest day for recovery.

For me this means five 04:30 am alarms every week, 29 hours of training and averaging between 60,000-70,000 meters of swimming in the pool. Length after length, week after week, and month after month, this is the life of many swimmers. Yes, I understand you might be reading this thinking I am crazy, that is a perfectly normal reaction.

Laura Stephens

What does your lockdown routine look like?

Swimmers are in a unique situation, as it is impossible to continue our specific training without a pool. Maintaining such high volume and high-intensity work simply cannot be done safely. This is due to the non-contact advantage of training in the water rather than on the land.

However, with a bit of improvisation, I have a new program. This mirrors as closely as possible the work I would be doing in the pool with different land-based activities. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings start with a 30-minute run or cycle, followed by a home-gym circuit. Each day the circuit focuses on different muscle areas either upper or lower body, along with some general core work. In the afternoon I get back on the spin bike for a more intense session, interval work with fast and hard repetitions... gnarly stuff. Wednesday and Saturday have one high intensity bike session, and Sunday of course is rest.

I'm also including extra flexibility work which has always been something I?ve had a bad habit of neglecting in my normal routine. This is a great time to be improving the small ?game-inches? you can make, that usually you would not prioritise.

How has the change effected you?

Ironically, as I'm writing this post, today would have been the beginning of the Olympic trials had COVID-19 never existed. I would be swimming the 200m Butterfly, aiming to qualify for Tokyo and achieve my dream of becoming an Olympian.

Disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, and many more feelings have taken over my emotions since the virus outbreak. Coming to terms with the rescheduling of the Olympic games to 2021 has not been easy.

"Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting."

A relevant quote at a time like this. Patience is key in keeping you focused and motivated to continue working positively towards the future.


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