Katie Drabot, NCAA Swimmers Trying To Find Places to Train, Sleep After Campuses Close

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Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

Stanford senior Katie Drabot was trying to wrap her head around the fact that she and her Cardinal teammates were not going to get a chance at swimming for an NCAA four-peat.

It was something she and her teammates had trained for all season and wanted to prove they could accomplish.

“We knew a four-peat was a possibility. To be stripped of that chance is hard. We know we did everything we could have. It is tough, but it is something that we are still proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Katie Drabot told Swimming World. “This year was our underdog year. We don’t have any big names or Olympians on our team and we wanted to show we could still win. For our class specifically, it is that final meet that we put our leadership to the test. We didn’t get to lead the team into that final meet.”

But as soon as the NCAA Championships were cancelled because of the coronavirus, other problems began to add to the life of a year-round swimmer living on campus.

Stanford, like most major universities, is clearing campus. Drabot and her teammates have to be off campus by Wednesday.

That also means the pool will be closed.

So before Drabot could even fully understand the magnitude of missing the NCAA championships, she now is facing major issues that are affecting college swimmers across the country who are training for the Olympic trials — finding a place to train and finding a place to sleep.

“It just has been a waiting game and things are changing each hour,” she said. “It is weird. My bags are packed and I am waiting to know where to go.

“I feel like I am going to wake up one day and feel like I had the craziest dream.”

But it is more of a nightmare for college swimmers.

Michigan’s Miranda Tucker had to find multiple pools to swim in this week as she continued her training. That is the case for most college swimmers now.

Campus pools are closed and other aquatic facilities are starting to close or limit availability to try not to spread the virus.

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Katie Drabot at Golden Goggles; Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

“One thing that has really helped me is that it is not just me. So many people are experiencing the same thing,” Drabot said. “That at least is comforting. This is not the way I wanted to end my senior year. But it is more important to stay safe and stay healthy and try to get back to a normal life.”

But what is normal for an elite swimmer?

Drabot was going to swim at the NCAA Championships, then train at the Olympic Training Center before moving into an off-campus apartment. Now, with NCAAs cancelled, she is not going to the OTC, either. Plus her apartment lease doesn’t begin until April 19. And it isn’t easy to just stay with family since Drabot’s family lives in Wisconsin, not northern California.

“I was going to go to OTC after NCAAs. Then Brooke Forde and I were moving into an apartment,” Drabot said. “So now, it is what do we do for the next month? It is so hard to wrap your mind around it. We had practice (Friday) and then we found out Stanford was closing all of their facilities. We had a Plan A and Plan B and now it is X-Y-Z.

“If we have to fly across the country, we are going to do that.”

Every training group on a campus is dealing with similar issues. The quick changes have made things hard to plan and left the future of training and a good night’s sleep up in the air.

“I don’t know how to explain the feeling. It seems like every hour there was something new in the news,” Katie Drabot said. “It is such a weird feeling. Right now, I am heavily leaning on Greg (Meehan) and my friends. The past few days have been as bizarre as they can get.”

10 comments

  1. Julie Tellier

    Amber Mann Stewart looks like we should add some space and find homes for some displaced swimmers.

  2. avatar
    Janet

    First, Katie and Brooke are “big names,” and those big name coaches are and should be helping. Did she think of returning home and running, running stairs, free weights, yoga, and maybe using pools at gyms or fitness centers. I know many are open more than in CA. I’m not discounting her concern, but learning to adapt is part of what should be second nature for mentally tough elite athletes. I know the OTC is packed right now but no one can go in, even employees. Let’s just hope there is an Olympic Trials Meet and Tokyo Olympics!

  3. James Ash

    Some of the YMCA’s are still open. We just got so lucky to go back to ours from years ago. Try that too. Family first.

  4. Sharon MW

    the ncaa should try to organize facilities like Olympic training centers for athletes to train, they can set up prescreening protocols

  5. Kimberly Joy

    This closure stuff isnout of control. This is all being hyped by the media and for political purposes. I feel bad for the swimmers, so hard to have to scramble because of such nonsense.

    • avatar
      Chris

      @kimberlyjoy Please keep your toxic politics away from swimming sites. The media is not making up stories about entire countries of 60 million people being on lock down and having overwhelmed health systems. Trying to prevent that from occurring in the United States is called public health and not politics while dangerous assertions such as yours are actually what is very political

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      It isn’t hyped up at all. Are you reading the news and watching it etc… can you see the images from Italy and elsewhere.. can you see the rapid spread and the death count… are you listening to the World H Org experts? … 360-plus more deaths in Italy in one day yesterday. Out of control is the attitude of anyone who thinks sport and the seasons of 12 year olds, swimmers and any other sports people etc bigger than this. Sport will be there after this is gone and we can all celebrate, encourage and enjoy again. Meanwhile, might be good to embrace a little perspective and learn and teach some lessons in resilience, you know, the kind of stuff sport is supposed to be good at teaching the rest of the world …

  6. Rob Richardson

    Sorry, but she needs to consider the larger picture (which it appears she is doing based upon her quote in the article). Training in a group is a bad idea (now the CDC says no more than 10), the Bay Area is now on lockdown for non essential travel – and her training fits into that category. Even if she “trained alone” – several other people need to potentially risk their lives, or put other lives in danger, to support the facility she would be training in. There is no way there will be a Trials and Olympics in 2020. I feel for her and all the athletes of the world (as we all did in 1980 and 1984), but a lot of people are about ready to lose their jobs and companies go out of business. So suck it up, shelter in place for 3 weeks, wait for the Coronavirus dust to settle, and then move on.

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