Triathletes all over the world have been forced to bow down to the will of the coronavirus. This virus has wielded the power to take away one of our three sports, begrudgingly turning us into duathletes. I was born and bred in a pool, it’s where I spent a good portion of my childhood and adolescence. Sure, I get burned out from being in the pool from time to time and go on hiatus, but that was always my choice to step away.
I had just come back on March 2 after being off for two months and had two weeks of swims under my belt. I was getting my groove back when the shit hit the fan. I remember going to the Georgia Tech CRC the morning of Friday, March 13, and thinking “Yeah, this will probably be the last time I get to swim for a long time.” It was a good swim, the looming pandemic had scared everyone away so I had a lane all to myself. As I walked out of the CRC at 6:30 a.m. I talked to a building supervisor and asked what the situation was with being open or closed. The supervisor said, “We’re open through spring break right now.” I doubted that’d hold up.
Things had escalated in a matter of hours and by that afternoon the magic 8-ball said, “Outlook not so good” for my chances of swimming in the near future. The CDC was now recommending everywhere groups of people congregated were to be avoided, and just like that the gyms began to close. I spent the following day searching for any place that’d let me get pool time, but I had no luck. My fate as well as every other triathlete’s was sealed…we’d be indefinitely pool-less. Looking forward I began to wonder “Did that really matter that I couldn’t swim?” First, all my races were starting to get postponed or canceled, I didn’t really have to be in the water if there were no races for the next two months, if not longer. Second, I’m a lifelong swimmer, I could probably hop into a triathlon without swimming for several months and still do pretty well. Sure, it wouldn’t be pretty and it would hurt, but I could do it.
Not all hope was lost though because in about a month I could consider open water swimming. The water temperature in the middle of April is still pretty chilly even for Georgia. However that’s why I own a wetsuit, neoprene cap and booties. We’re cooking with fire now. I could probably get away with heading up to Lake Acworth or Allatoona once a week and swim about 2,000 yards to keep the rust off, but the new question would be “Would we be allowed?” The places where we swim around the Atlanta Metro are in state parks, if the governor ordered the closure of the parks then what would we do? I jokingly thought “This may be the only time where it’s safer to swim in the Chattahoochee River than anywhere else in the area.” If I got sick from E. coli I had plenty of toilet paper to put to good use.