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Coach calls for elite swimmers to be given access to pools

Coach calls for elite swimmers to be given access to pools
April 24, 2020

Leading swimming coach Dean Boxall has called for Australia's elite swimmers to be allowed access to pools for training, saying they need to return to the water "very soon" to prepare for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Training for Boxall's St Peters Western Swim Club squad - featuring world champion freestyler Ariarne Titmus - was shut down at their base at Brisbane's St Peters Lutheran College at the end of last month due to Coronavirus restrictions.

With aquatic centres across the country closed, Boxall has been reported as calling for allowances to soon be introduced to ensure elite swimming squad members returned to the pool and got back on track for Tokyo 2021.

Boxall told AAP this week "I don't want to be seen as someone who is not in touch with what is happening.

"I get it, people are dying. It is a terrible crisis. But you go to parks and you see stacks of people but we can't get elite swimmers to swim in a pool.

"We want to get back in the water but we can't, we are hamstrung. I am not talking about the whole swimming community in Australia returning to pools, just the elite guys."

Boxall said the longer Australia's elite swimmers spent out of the pool, the longer it would take for them to bounce back to their best in their Olympic preparation.

He explained "they need to be in the water very soon, like the next two weeks, just to get the body back into a rhythm.

"Usually if you have a month off, it takes you two months to get back into it - it's normally double.

"If (pool training does not restart until) September it is going to be a struggle. If you call it in July, August, it is still difficult - they need to get back in the water."

Boxall said swimmers aiming for Tokyo 2021 selection would relish the chance to get back in the training pool no matter what stringent conditions were placed on them, commenting "of course we want to be in line with government (Coronavirus) guidelines, so give us heavy, strict protocols (at pool) and I promise you that we will adhere to them.

"If they told us we can only have one person an hour, or a person in every second lane, if this was the policy put in place we would follow it."

Boxall said his squad - which also features former world champion backstroker Mitch Larkin - were doing their best to cope away from the pool.

He added "we were going 100 miles an hour (at training) and then it was just bang, stop. That was a shock to the system.

"Everyone grieved and dealt with it in a different way. But everyone has got through that stage.

"They are now going 'I see a lot of people doing exercise, maybe we can get back into the water'."

While small groups of elite swimmers could easily comply with social distancing restrictions, Boxall did not address issues relating to the cost of running facilities only used for elite competition.

With AAP.

Image courtesy of St Peters Lutheran College.

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