By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Friday, April 17, 2020
Aside from hitting a few laps in the small pool behind his house from time to time, like everyone else during this ongoing pandemic, Michael Chadwick hasn’t been able to swim.
But since 2020 Olympic Trials are postponed until next year along with the Olympic Games, and all swimming meets are canceled in the immediate future, it’s not a big issue.
He continues to exercise and lift when he can, but for the most part, Chadwick has decided to use this “time off” from heavy training and competition to recharge, relax and reflect on what this all means for him in the greater scheme of things and the world of swimming.
“Now that what every qualifying swimmer was focused on this year – swimming at Olympic Trials – has been postponed a year, it’s important that we stay focused and engaged as much as possible, which isn’t easy under these circumstances,” said Chadwick, a top contender in the sprint freestyles.
“As we focused on being ready for Trials over the past year, we all had to embrace our selfish nature and soul search how far we were prepared to go to compete at our highest levels. Now, we have time to reset and reflect on what this all means, as well as accept what’s happened and how we will approach the rest of 2020 into next year so we’re ready a year later.”
Living and training in San Diego under the coaching direction of David Marsh, Chadwick, who won five medals (two gold, a silver and two bronze) at the Pan American Games last summer, said he realizes he and everyone else now needs to extend what was to be the end of the quadrennial into a quintennial to be ready for Trials (and the Olympics) next year.
And while he’s disappointed that he has to wait a year for a second shot at his first Olympics (he finished sixth in the 50 freestyle at 2016 Trials), Chadwick said a lot of athletes tend to see their best swims the year after the Olympics. If that’s true, next year should be stellar for the entire U.S. team.
“It’s important to me that I take this time to rest over the next couple of months – how many other times will we get this opportunity?” he said. “No doubt we’re in a strange situation – one none of us could have imagined even two months ago – but I prefer to look at this as a positive rather than negative.
“It’s not easy, because I would much rather be gearing down my training in preparation for Trials, but when it boils down to it, we’re all in the same situation, and no matter what we do, no one is going to have the perfect plan right now. So, I’m choosing to make the best of it.”
Chadwick, who celebrated his 25th birthday this past Wednesday with wife, Cassi, said he is in regular communication with Marsh about what he should be doing to stay active despite not having a pool to swim in regularly.
While some athletes have taken to running, lifting, yoga, Pilates and other “non-water” exercise, he is still finding what works best for him.
The only swimming event still on his schedule for 2020 is the beginning of year two of the International Swimming League, scheduled as of now for Sept. 4-6 in Singapore.
A team member of the LA Current, Chadwick said he and his teammates are hopeful the COVID-19 pandemic will be under better control so they can compete in the ISL format and get “some” swimming in prior to winter and spring events – leaving very little opportunity for competition prior to Trials in June 2021 and the Olympics in July.
And while he admits the virus has substantially impacted his and his competitors’ training schedules, Chadwick said this time has given him an opportunity to speak with a lot of family and friends who have influence in his life – something he would normally have shut down to focus on training, resting and prepping for Olympic Trials.
“I just see this time as an opportunity to do a lot of things we wouldn’t otherwise be doing or get to do because of where we would normally be in preparation for Trials and the Olympics,” Chadwick said. “It’s true – we’re all finding out new normal – but that is different for everyone, and not just swimmers and athletes who are readjusting their lives with the Olympics move to 2021.
“My body was pretty broken down prior to this shutdown from months of hard training. My shoulder, hip and joints were all feeling the effects, and now they are getting time to repair, so I’m taking this time to allow it to heal and then I’ll figure out what to do next.”
One thing he and U.S. teammate Jacob Pebley have done with their down time is pick up a new sponsor, Squatty Potty, which found fame and recognition on Shark Tank.
They shot a commercial and other promotional materials for the product marketed as “the original toilet stool that helps you poop better” in January and had a really fun time laughing and joking around together.
“Jacob brings out the ridiculous part of my personality, so we had a great time working on that together,” he said. “We expect the ad to run online pretty soon. It’s a really fun way to promote the product.”
Otherwise, Chadwick said he will soon be rediscovering his “steam” heading into the rest of 2020 as he and the rest of the swimming world looks toward 2021 and what that might look like moving forward.
“This next year is going to be a test of faith for me and most other swimmers as we figure out how to approach it from a training standpoint as well as deal with the emotions of waiting another year for our biggest meet,” he said. “But I think it’s important that we’re realistic.
“At least swimmers across the globe are all largely in the same place right now in our limitations for training and competing. Swimmers have never really had an ‘off season’ to recharge and repair like other sports, but we’re getting that now, so we have to take advantage of it. I think this reset will create some interesting results over the next year, and we’ll all find what works best for each of us moving forward.”