Sharon van Rouwendaal, The Olympic Marathon Champ Who Trains In A Paddling Pool

Sharon van Rouwendaal - Photo Courtesy: main, Rio 2016 gold - Patrick B. Kraemer; inset, Sharon van Rouwendaal Instagram

Olympic marathon champion Sharon van Rouwendaal is used to going the distance in pool, rivers, lake, sea and ocean. She trains 90km a week.

This coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic season is different and we find the Montpellier-based Dutch ace in her backyard on a rope pacing herself standing still in a paddling pool.

No – it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Containment measures the world over have forced pools and swim programs to close down. Sharon Van Rouwendaal, like most others, are confined to keeping fit with dryland exercise but she doesn’t want to lose the feel of the water.

At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Van Rouwendaal claimed gold in the marathon by 17 seconds after 10km. She covers an average of 90km in training a week over 10 training sessions.

She won’t be doing the equivalent in her paddling pool but she will be getting valuable time in the water replicating regular movement and keeping specific muscle and sensory systems alive in preparation for Tokyo 2020 in 2021, the Games having been shunted forward a year due to the pandemic.

In her new regime, Van Rouwendaal wears a belt around her wetsuit and is attached to a rope tied to a pole that helps hold her position in the paddling pool:


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