McKenzie Coan celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Freestyle - S7 Final on day 9 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on September 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Team USA athletes have an extra year until the Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus pandemic and while they’re still hard at work training for Paralympic glory in Japan, the postponement has opened up some free time for Para swimmers.
Here’s what some of Team USA’s top Para Swimmers have been doing with another year to go until Tokyo.
The three-time gold medalist hasn’t let limited pool access hold her training schedule back after installing her own personal pool in her garage.
And when she’s not in the pool, you can catch her with her paintbrush and easel working Bob Ross style to tunes ranging from Mozart to Taylor Swift. She also enjoys watching reality TV and reading political philosophy including Aristotle, Hobbes and Socrates.
“I majored in political science in college and became really interested in the readings which I’ve carried into my post-grad life,” she said.
Aspden made her mark at the 2016 Rio Paralympics with two bronze medals in the 100m back and 34 pt. 4x100m medley relay. She’ll be looking to improve upon those results in 2021. She’s been spending her quarantine time binge watching shows like Criminal Minds, Married at First Sight and The Great British Baking Show.
💧+☀️= my happy place!😁 • • Thankful for some amazing family friends who are letting me train in their pool! It felt so great to be back in the water! 🙏🏻 • • I know this time has been difficult for everyone in different ways. For me, swimming is something that has always been an important part of staying physically and mentally strong. Especially now, we have to hold onto those anchors⚓️ • • Stay Healthy - Stay Happy - Stay Strong
Herzog won silver in the 100m breaststroke at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and continues to train for her spot in Tokyo next year. She doesn’t stay out of the water for very long during her free time as she’s an avid fly fisherman and took up swimming in the Arkansas River to keep her training alive.
Mikaela Jenkins is one of the most exciting young Para swimmers on Team USA. The rising high school senior had a strong showing at the 2019 World Championship with a gold medal in the 100m fly and silver in the 34 pt. 4x100 free and 34 pt. 4x100 medley.
Jenkins has recently returned to training in her high school club in Indiana but also enjoys working on her art or watching Broadway shows.
“My guilty pleasure would be watching a TV show or movie while deep cleaning my room/bathroom, which is a little odd, but I love a clean room,” she said.
Colleen Young, the owner of a bronze medalist in 2016, has spent her summer outdoors. The recent Fairfield University graduate has taken in some great scenes in the past few months, but she’s only got one thing to watch out for.
“I am absolutely terrified of bugs. Literally any bug I’ll scream and run away,” she said.
While some are looking to replicate past success and some look to burst onto the Paralympic scene, all five competitors have gotten creative inside and outside the pool this summer as they look to represent Team USA in 2021.