Cal Swimming: How the Tokyo Olympics Might Actually Be Better in 2021

Photo by Al Sermeno, KLC fotos

Jeff Faraudo

Cal men’s swim coach Dave Durden is trying to be optimistic. Durden has a special entry on his 2021 calendar: The Tokyo Olympics, currently set for next July 23 through Aug. 8, at which he will serve as the U.S. men’s head coach.

Is Durden convinced the rescheduled Games will come off?

“Yeah, I’m not convinced right now, with where we sit,” he says, alluding to the ongoing uphill battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s on the books, it’s on the schedule. We know where it is and how to qualify for it. And we know, having been out in Tokyo in December of 2019 to see the (Olympic) village, to see the pool, just to feel it.

“Where our focus is right now is not on the unknown but what is the known. So we know it’s there and that’s where we tend to think and that’s where we tend to live until they tell us not to go anymore.

“But right now we’re working in the known. This is our known world right now and we’re moving towards that.”

Here's our full interview with Durden on the subject of the 2021 Olympics:

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If the Games go on, Durden actually believes the one-year postponement might benefit the U.S. team. Given extra time, he and national team officials have taken a second look at the schedule and made tweaks he hopes will help the team.

The rescheduled Olympic swim trials will be held June 13-20 in Omaha, Nebraska. The team that emerges from that meet will convene for a camp at Stanford, then will travel to Singapore for a final camp before trekking to Tokyo.

“I feel like coming off trials, we have a little longer stretch at home. We have a little stretch in Palo Alto in our domestic camp,” Durden says. “And we head into Singapore and we know that dynamic and what that looks like.

“The silver lining of this postponement has allowed the transition from the trials to the Games to be better.”

Speaking about his Cal team, Durden says the loss of major meets this spring and summer, starting with the NCAA championships, has allowed him to adjust the Bears’ workout schedule in a way he hopes will put them in better position heading into 2021.

Many of his athletes hope to compete at the U.S. trials, and Durden is eager to see if this break from the competition schedule turns out to be a good thing long-term.

“It’s allowed us to really take our time over these last 17 weeks to get ourselves in a spot mentally, emotionally, physically, to get after this next year and to be better,” he says. “I feel good about that.”

Already he has swimmers showing up for workouts in their race-day gear, asking to simulate events they are missing.

“I think there’s going to be an excitement when they do get to step up on the blocks and have competition that they haven’t had.”

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Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo

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