Extended downtime wasn't supposed to be in the cards for Loren Gillilan, Kris Rogic, Autumn D'Arcy and Mikayla Popham this offseason.
When their college seasons came to an end, the workload was only set to intensify for the group of Cal State Bakersfield swimmers, who had all qualified for their country's Olympic Trials this summer.
Gillilan and D'Arcy, who both qualified in the 100-meter butterfly, were set to compete in the American Trials in Omaha, Neb. on June 21-28, while Popham qualified in four freestyle events for the Australian Trials on June 14-19.
Rogic, a member of the Croatian National team, was hoping to earn a spot in the Olympic games in the 100 backstroke, with his opportunity set to come during the European Aquatics Championships in Budapest on May 11-24.
And while all four still have their sights set on competing on a massive international stage, their ambitions have been put on hold, as the fate of the Tokyo games remain in limbo.
As the COVID-19 outbreak has pushed the Olympic start date back to July of 2021, the swimming trials have also been put on hold. The American event is now scheduled for June 13-20, 2021, while Australia has yet to set a makeup date.
Coronavirus precautions have also put a halt on individual training sessions. Popham, who recently came out of a two-week quarantine she'd been placed in after returning to Australia from America, is the only one of the four with consistent access to water, taking to the ocean to try and replicate her normal routine as best she can.
For the other three, options are limited to team video workouts held on Zoom Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and individual weight and cardio exercises the rest of the week. Despite their best efforts to stay in shape, being away from the pool has made it difficult to make needed gains.
"You get out of the water for so long and you start to lose your feel," Gillilan said. "Being out of the water this long is hectic at times. You worry ‘Am I going to be out of shape? Am I not going to feel good when I get back in?’"
The delay also creates a bit of a time crunch for Gillilan and Rogic, who are both set to graduate from CSUB in 2021.
“(That) is a time when you want to focus on graduation and what’s the next step moving forward," Rogic said. "And we’re going to have to be doing that while we’re also swimming and training at a high level. There’s definitely going to be the two different worlds we’re going to be in."
D'Arcy, who hasn't had a layoff of more than two weeks in years, says it's a strange feeling being away from the pool for so long, but can also see a benefit in having an additional year to train.
"I've continuously, since I've been here, gotten better," said D'Arcy, a sophomore who set a new CSUB record for wins in a season in 2020. "If we get back into the pool soon I presume I can keep dropping time hopeful and get stronger and faster.”
Recently, a sense of hope has crept in that the swimmers will be able to return to competition.
Gillilan, Rogic and D'Arcy are slated to compete in the Speedo Summer Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., which is still scheduled to take place on Aug. 4-8. Rogic may also get his shot to qualify for the Olympics this year, as the European Aquatics Championships are tentatively rescheduled for Aug. 17-30.
At the very least, Roadrunner coach Chris Hansen thinks his swimmers should be optimistic when they return to action, saying the global crisis has prevented anyone from getting a competitive advantage.
"Everybody else in the world is going through it," Hansen said. "Not just us."