Cody Miller, a 2016 Olympic medalist in breaststroke, had the following to say in late May about training and coping during the pandemic and what it means for next summer’s Olympic Trials and Olympics.
How was your training going before the shutdown?
Cody: About two days before I had packed my bags and was getting ready to go to the Olympic Training Center along with Lilly (King), Blake (Pieroni) and a few others in our training group at IU (Indiana University). At that point everything was going great. I felt the whole group was training really well. We were in a good position for the Trials. The next day they closed the OTC.
What have you been doing since?
A lot of running – about five miles, four days a week. I’m not a runner, so for me that’s more than I’ve ever done before. I’m also doing a lot of cross training. Fortunately, we found someone in Indianapolis who has a 25-yard pool at their home. Me and a couple of the other Olympians at IU have been able to swim there three times a week. We’re driving three hours a day, but we’ll take what we can get – keeping a feel for the water and keeping in reasonably good swimming shape. I’m trying to stay as fit as I can so that when we get back to normal, the transition will be as seamless as possible.
Do you think that pool time is giving you much of an advantage?
I don’t think the transition into real training will be all that much of a challenge for me. It will take just a few weeks. I think for most people, and for the National Team swimmers who have no pool space right now, it’s going to be really hard.
Did the postponement of the Olympics force you to adjust your career plans?
I was planning to swim for another four or five years anyway. My training plans for next year were focused on this new International Swimming League. I just pushed those plans back a year.
How are you coping mentally?
A little over a year ago, I tore the ACL and frayed the meniscus in my left knee. I was out of the water for a month and when I got back into swimming, I was able to do only about 25 percent of my normal training for about five months. I know what it’s like to feel restricted and not making the progress you want to.
But you can only worry about things that are in your control. In my mind, it’s a waste of energy to be concerned with when I am going to be able to get back in the water and how is this break going to affect my ability to perform next summer. Those are valid questions, but not things I can control. What I can control is how fit I am given the current circumstances. That single focus – maybe that comes with my age and experience – but I’m not worried about next summer. It is what it is. What’s happened is unfortunate, and not what anybody wants, but most of it is out of our control. Other athletes might be freaking out, but I’m at peace with it.
How much do you think this disruption in training will affect the composition of U.S. Olympic Team next summer and the prospects for Olympic medals?
This is a question I get asked a lot. I think you will have pretty much the same top eight finalists and the same medalists next summer that you would have had this summer, regardless of the training situations. That is if everything goes well and we still have the Games.
The people who are the caliber of athletes that would make the United States Olympic team or stand on the podium at the Olympics are the people who are finding ways to stay extremely fit right now. These are the people who are grinding and working as hard as they can in the shadows. When they do have the pool time, they will be able to get back into the swing of things faster than anyone else.
To be an athlete at this level, you have to be a little bit of a savage. You are kind of psychotic. What you have to put yourself through on a regular basis to be in the position of making an Olympic team and winning medals is insane by any stretch of the imagination. These are the people who push themselves when nobody else is watching.
I think we will be okay. Maybe that’s just my optimistic approach, but that’s how I really feel.
In an effort to more effectively tell the stories of our entire membership, we have created this news tip form.
When you hear of a story that is unique and interesting to you, it's probably interesting to someone else too. You're the ear to the ground of this organization - We heard you loud and clear and we need your help. Please fill in each of the fields in this form as completely as possible with the pertinent information so a writer could potentially follow up for a story. The more information you can provide, the better. Thank you for all you do for the swimming community.