PLYMOUTH Leander’s Laura Stephens believes patience is the key to her achieving her Olympic dream.
The University of Plymouth student should have been attempting to book her place on the plane to Tokyo today. She had been due to compete in the 200m butterfly event at the British Championships in London this evening – an event which was doubling as the Olympic trials.
Stephens was heading into championship in the best form of her life. She set a new lifetime best of 2:07.62 for the 200m butterfly at last month’s Edinburgh International Meet. That time ranks her third in the world in the 2020 FINA rankings behind American stars Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith.
The former Plymouth College pupil was looking like a good bet to make the Great Britain team but the trials were cancelled and the Olympics have been moved back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It means Stephens will have to try and peak again next year if she is to fulfil her dream of competing at the Olympic Games.
The 20-year-old, who has been focussed on trying to make the British Olympic team for the last couple of years, has admitted the rescheduling of the Games has been hard to come to terms with.
“Disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness and many more feelings have taken over my emotions since the virus outbreak,” said Stephens, who was a World Championship finalist last year. “Coming to terms with the rescheduling of the Olympic Games to 2021 has not been easy.”
She added: “A relevant quote at a time like this is ‘patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.’
“Patience is key in keeping you focused and motivated to continue working positively towards the future.”
The lockdown has been particularly hard for swimmers and divers as they are not sports that can be done at home.
Stephens and her Leander team-mates have been trying to find new ways to keep in shape without been able to swim in a pool.
“Swimmers are in a unique situation, as it is impossible to continue our specific training without a pool,” she said.
“However, with a bit of improvisation, I have a new program. This mirrors as closely as possible the work I would be doing in the pool with different land-based activities.”
In a normal week, Stephens would be up at 4.30am five days a week and doing 29 hours of training and swimming up to 70,000 metres a week in the pool.
Without a pool to train it, Stephens is doing more running and cycling and doing gym and flexibility in a bid to keep in shape and be ready to resume her Olympic dream when the lockdown and restrictions are over.