David Gelfand swims at the 2019 Para Swimming World Series in Indianapolis.
David Gelfand started swimming in classes with his mom when he was just a baby. The love he felt for the sport was almost immediate, and when he began his competitive swim journey in first grade, he was hooked.
“The feeling of diving into the water to race others, the clock, and myself - I love that,” said Gelfand. “I love how when I swim I’m also part of a team that may not be in the water with me but is still behind me pushing me in training and in races.”
Gelfand is not only a member of the 2020 U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Team, but he’s also on the Tufts University swim team. During his freshman season, he helped the Tufts Jumbos win the conference title, something the school hadn’t done before.
Just this January, Gelfand moved to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to work towards his goal of becoming a Paralympian. He had considered the move for a while, but last fall he decided to make the jump. Gelfand knew he needed to mix up his training for Tokyo, and the move pushed him to do that.
He now swims nine times a week - often twice a day - and lifts weights two days a week. He’s able to get more sleep and spend his time around other athletes who are just as focused as he is.
“I’ve had great training at Tufts,” Gelfand said. “But I felt like I needed to make Tokyo the focus for the year. I was working really hard, but I couldn’t devote all my time to swimming like I need to.”
When he moved to the training center, he decided to take a short break from Tufts to enroll in classes at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, which has allowed him to stay on track with his schooling.
After all, Gelfand is majoring in mechanical engineering at Tufts. If all goes according to plan, he’ll compete at Tokyo 2020 and return home to finish his college career, graduating on time in 2021.
After college, Gelfand plans to work in medical device design, as his love for physics and math powers his love for building things.
“Medical device design is a cutting edge industry,” Gelfand said. “The innovation and growth is what I love. The products help so many get healthier, recover faster and live longer. I want to be a part of that.”
But for 2020, he turns his focus to Paralympic Trials in June.
“I still need to drop a lot of time before Trials,” Gelfand said. “But I’m working really hard to improve my technique and my fitness, as well as working to get enough sleep.”
Gelfand will spend the coming months training to drop time, hoping to keep his Paralympic dreams alive. The training center is the perfect place for him to do just that.