Who Has Removed Themselves From Olympic Contention

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Who Has Removed Themselves From Olympic Contention

The 2021 United States Olympic Trials and Tokyo Olympic Games are going to look different this year. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, several former Olympic swimmers have announced their early retirement. This does not come as a surprise, as the commitment and training for an extra year can cause mental exhaustion, or not fit into life plans. As veteran swimmers move on, new ones will have a better chance to qualify for the 2021 Olympics.

Former American record-holder Ian Finnerty surprised many with his retirement announcement. He posted on Instagram that his impressive career was over, in part due to the Alabama coaching change, as he was training with Coley Stickels. Finnerty previously held the American record for the 100-yard breaststroke, and was a decorated NCAA winner as well. During his time swimming for his alma mater, Indiana University, he became the first man to break 50 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke. Finnerty will be moving to Atlanta to begin his new career working for Red Bull.

Another March retiree was freestyler Margo Geer. She announced her sudden goodbye via social media in a similar fashion to Finnerty. Many people expected her to contend for the 2021 U.S. Olympic team. Her accomplishments include being a four-time Pan American Games gold medalist, and a World Championships medalist as well. Previously, she attended the University of Arizona and was named the Pac-12 Woman of the Year Award in 2015. Her retirement followed a long history of shoulder injuries and tough experiences at previous Olympic Trials meets. However, her announcement was a hopeful one, as she has been hired by the University of Alabama to be its next head coach. “To the sport I love…I can’t wait to see you in a different light,” she wrote.

Outside of America, other Olympic swimmers have also said goodbye to the sport. Belgian swimmer Pieter Timmers bid farewell last April, shortly after the Olympics were postponed. He had previously won a silver medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the 2016 Rio Games. This had been an incredible feat, as he entered the Games ranked 35th. His achievement was also a large win for Belgium, which had not seen a swimming medalist since the 1996 Games. Timmers claimed his retirement was due to personal plans for the 2020 year. He had also previously suffered a collapsed lung, hindering his training.

With several names removed from Olympic contention, who will step forward and claim Olympic invitations. We will soon find out.

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