Marking what would have been the first day of competition for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, high-performance swimmers around the nation will be celebrating a very different kind of competition this Thursday from the one they anticipated as they get set to participate in a virtual national racing carnival.
Using the one-year-to-go mark until the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games, this coming Thursday will not only be a celebration of all things Olympic by the wider sporting community but will be the first chance our elite swimmers have to fire up their competitive juices since they re-set their preparations for Tokyo.
Virtually lodged, swimmers will be competing in time trials across four distances, in any stroke, in a short course format. Swimming off in 25m, 75m, 150m and 300m, athletes will use the variety to their advantage and push themselves in multiple events during, their first shot at competitive racing since the early months of this year.
Abiding by the various restrictions in place around the country, squads will travel to a central location to compete, with Bond, TSS Aquatic, Chandler and Griffith University squad’s assembling on the Gold Coast at Southport. While USC Spartans remain at their home base in the Sunshine Coast and Victorian athletes from MSAC and Nunawading squads taking up the challenge at Melbourne Sports Centres – MSAC.
Incoming National Head Coach Rohan Taylor said the virtual event will be focussed more on connection and community than breaking records.
“It’s important to be together on that day, acknowledging all the emotions surrounding it and just getting back to our community.”
“We want the event to be a celebration of the high-performance community – athletes, coaches and sports scientists alike,” he said.
With heavy restrictions still in place on travel, opting to host the event digitally allows for competition and connection around the country. Considering the varied circumstances individual athletes have faced during previous months, the event will be a good litmus test for athletes not long back into the water.
“It’s a kick-off point allowing everyone to reconnect, put some times up on the board and challenge each other. We aren’t concerned about times or speed, its more about bringing people back together,” said Taylor.
“Whilst not all times lodged will be official – with hand timing in place at Southport – the opportunity of short course racing provides the added benefit of being more skills focussed than just endurance and speed, taking it back-to-basics”, he added.
With many states cancelling their championship events due to COVID-19, the virtual race provides an earlier milestone of competition than the upcoming 2020 Hancock Prospecting Australian Short Course Swimming Championships due to take place in Melbourne in late November.
To join in on the one year to go celebrations make sure you are following @DolphinsAus on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and see what the Australian Olympic Team get up to on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.