SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – After calls to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics from the USA Swimming, USA Track and Field, the US Olympic committee and multiple countries; the International Olympic Committee announced that this summer’s Olympic games will be postponed until 2021 on Tuesday, March 24.
A decision weeks in the making, as most of the sports world is also halted.
“I’m used to taking breaks from swimming but not ones that are out of my control and I don’t have any idea when I’ll be back to get into a pool,” said Fayetteville Manlius graduate Ashley Twichell.
The 30-year old Twichell was set to make her Olympic debut in July, qualifying for the open water 10k race back in July of 2019 at the FINA World Championships. But training for the event was becoming impossible as more and more facilities across the world closed due to concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m in full support of the decision’s made and I’m glad that our global health and safety has been made the number one priority but at the same time definitely disappointed,” said Twichell.
“A lot of my teammates and competitors not just across the country but across the world haven’t been able to swim or train in their respective sports. You want every to be able to train to the best of their ability and in my opinion it would have taken away from that a little bit if you know people – they’re (not) training (not )because they don’t want to, they’re not training because they literally cannot.,“ she added.
While that uncertainty is gone, the Olympic games still do not have a new date set for 2021.
“There’s so many things that they’re going to have to figure out, first and foremost are new Olympic trials,” said Twichell. “Once those dates come out and those meets are set up, I’ll sit down and go back to the drawing board and figure out this next year.”
Twichell has had a lot to figure since March 17th. She and roughly 30 swimmers, most being her team USA teammates, were forced to leave the Team USA Colorado training facility earlier than planned when it closed. Upon returning to her home in Apex, North Carolina, her gyms were closed and her pool closed not too long after. Swimmers across the country lost places to swim.
Competitions were being cancelled as well, including this year’s Olympic trials set for late June. Twichell had hoped to qualify for a pool event at the trials. All of the changes can be as much of a mental strain as a physical one.
“I think it can be really easy to feel like you’re all alone and kinda get into your own head. So to talk to other people and realize that they’re going through similar things,” said Twichell. “For me it just helps to vocalize what I’m feeling. So whether that’s to my husband my parents, to my siblings, to my teammates, to my coaches, whoever it is it helps a lot just to get it out of your own head and have people to be able to validate you and know that what you’re feeling is fine, whatever it may be.”
She could feel that support when she found out the games were officially postponed and her phone did not seem to stop ringing.
“I feel really fortunate that I have such an amazing network of people in my life, teammates coaches, family, friends all have my back I also know that a lot of people have it way way worse than me,” said Twichell.
Twichell and her teammates of course are disappointed that a dream they worked their whole lives for is now on hold. At the same time, they understand the circumstances of the situation.
“It’s hard because swimming kinda is our world but when youre forced to take a step back you realize that its really in the grand scheme of things its not that important, said Twichell.
“There’s so many people suffering whether it be unemployment, small business owners who are suffering, people suffering from the actual virus itself or family members or loved ones suffering from the virus itself. Just remembering that everyone is being affected in one way or another by this and no one’s suffering or emotions or feelings should be minimized because everyone’s are gonna be different.”
Twichell has tried to help out her surrounding area as much as she can, supporting local businesses and looking to donate to a food bank.
As for her training, that will be altered to only her ‘dry land’ exercises.
“I’m someone who definitely does well on a routine so I’d like to maintain some sort of routine just to stay productive. But it will definitely be a new normal for a little bit,” said Twichell.
The former F-M hornet will turn 31 in June. She fully expected this would be her final year in athletic competition with Tokyo being the last site of a race. Right now, the Olympics still feel like the end, just in a different year.
“When I did qualify for the Olympics last July it did finally feel like there was an end in sight, I still absolutely love the sport obviously,” said Twichell.
“I feel like for my whole career I’ve never really been ready to be done. I kinda had wrapped my head around being done with the sport so It’s weird to think that that may be extended a little bit longer now, but I still love it. It’s not like the end of the world or a drag or anything but different than what I had planned in the first place.”
The full interview with Ashley is below.