It’s pretty clear this pandemic has rocked our world as we know it. Here's how I have navigated the past couple of months in quarantine.
Mid-March I was training in Adelaide after returning from the first World Series competition in Canada. I was struggling mentally on our return to training, and had been finding it hard to settle back into Adelaide. What was initially only supposed to be a week or so here and then, was looking like becoming longer stints as there were whispers of this virus affecting the upcoming international competitions. No overseas travel, meant more time training and living in Adelaide (my coach relocated in December).
I wasn’t coping well with the uncertainty of everything going on... was World Cup going to be postponed or cancelled? Is the rest of the World Series cancelled? What does our preparation now look like leading into the Olympics? No one had any answers. This was still early days in March when the virus hadn’t really hit Australia on a large scale yet. I just wasn’t feeling good, so I asked my coach if I could go home to spend a week with my family and friends in Melbourne.
Getting home to a warm hug from my Mum and sleeping in my own bed was brilliant. I felt the heaviness disappear as soon as I landed in Melbourne. By Friday, COVID 19 had escalated in Australia, and it looked like borders were going to close. Training facilities were also closing and we headed into lockdown. My week at home has now turned into 10 weeks so far.
In lockdown, the best place for anyone to be was home, so I was very grateful to be feeling safe back in Melbourne. The first few weeks in isolation I really struggled. I was confused, concerned, and devastated by the postponement of the Olympic Games. Clearly, it was the only correct decision in preserving the health and safety of the world, but the reality hit me pretty hard. You put everything into an Olympic campaign, and the rest of your life is on hold for those 4 years. After the London and Rio Olympic Games, I had a couple of months off just to rest my body and mind, and to do things I am unable to do whilst training e.g. hang out with my friends past 9 pm. I had already made plans for several things after Tokyo (if I made the team), and was looking forward to them. Those plans of internships, travel and overseas work have obviously now all gone out the window. The biggest mental challenge however, was realising that I had to commit to another year of instability and being away from home. Of course, the Olympics are worth the sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean it is easy, especially when you were set on other plans.
In the middle weeks of quarantine I had finally accepted our new reality and set my mind on maintaining some form of training (in my lounge room) and enjoyed mixing up my workouts with online classes and YouTube videos. I discovered dance cardio, practiced more yoga, and got back into some short running and bike sessions. I really enjoyed trying new ways of movement, which was key for me to stay motivated. I found my groove and was comfortable with my new daily routine of zoom calls, FaceTime catch-ups, and home workouts.
Coming out the other side
Fast forward to the last couple of weeks. There have been whispers of training resuming soon, and with that bought an initial wave of ‘Am I ready to go back to training yet?’. I had just become used to being in lockdown and we were all prepared to stay home for many months. All of a sudden, Australia was beating the virus and restrictions were going to reduce. I think it was a normal reaction to feel resistance to another change, even though you’d think I’d be busting to get back to the pool. With the Olympics seeming so far away and no competitions in the near future, my motivation to rush back to training was relatively low.
I am now excited to hopefully get back into the gym first and start building up some proper strength again, that I have no doubt lost, and catch up with my teammates face to face (albeit 6 feet apart). My coach is adamant that our return to training will be slow and steady to ensure we minimise the risk of injury. Diving requires a lot of specific movements that aren’t replicated in daily living, so getting our bodies properly activated again is the priority.
I’m not really sure what the next 12 months look like, but I am going to approach it with resilience and an open mind. If my career has taught me anything, it is that with the right mindset and support I can jump over any hurdle. There is lots of uncertainty ahead, but I am optimistic this time away from training, and normal life, has allowed us to reset and re-evaluate what’s important – kind of a pause on the usual frantic pace we were living at. Training will certainly look a little bit different for some time, but I am grateful for the efforts of the whole community in flattening the curve and allowing us the opportunity to return to sport.
Til next week, Belle
"Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient"
– Steve Maraboli