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Double-event Olympic qualifier Parker Reynolds carries on even as pools close

Double-event Olympic qualifier Parker Reynolds carries on even as pools close

Santa Maria Swim Club member Parker Reynolds was a two-time U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier last August, easily meeting the standards as he won the men's 1,500 and then the 800 at the Futures Meet in Portland.

In fact, Reynolds broke 2016 Olympics silver medalist (men's 200 breaststroke) Josh Prenot's SMSC 800 club record when he qualified for the Trials in that event.

Trouble is, in the wake of COVID-19, the coronavirus, area pools are meeting the same fate as their contemporaries throughout the nation — they are closing.

"Paul Nelson closed down for remodeling in January," Reynolds, who attended Nipomo High School before transferring to Righetti for this school year, said earlier this week.

"I had been training at Hancock. That pool closed Thursday. Monday was my last day swimming at the (YMCA) before that closed down."

Now, "I've been strictly trying to stay in shape riding my bike," said Reynolds. "I rode six miles one day, five the next, nine the next. I've been riding a lot of miles on my bike, with my dad and my uncle. And (SMSC coach Mike Ashmore) also has workouts for us to do while we're out of the water."

Besides the uncertainty, not being able to train with his fellow SMSC members has been hard on Reynolds. "I'm eager to get back to training with my teammates," he said.

If he qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics, "If things (concerning COVID-19) are going the way they are now a week out from the start (of the Games), and they held them as scheduled, no, I would not feel comfortable going," said Reynolds. "But I would go.

"I would feel more comfortable with (the International Olympic Committee) postponing (the Games) until 2021."

That, Ashmore said, is the direction the IOC might take, though he said  that was not at all certain. On Friday, the head of USA Swimming, Tim Hinchey, urged the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to push for a 12-month postponement of the Tokyo Games.

The 2020 Summer Games are currently scheduled to take place July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo. The Olympic swim trials are slated for June 21-28 in Omaha.

"It's probably not realistic to hold (the Games) as scheduled," said Ashmore.

"Maybe not a cancellation, but postponing the Games until 2021 would be the most realistic to me, I think. I suspect we'll get Olympic news sometime soon. Postponing the Games until 2021 would give people more time after all this is over, and an announcement soon would relieve the anxiety the athletes are feeling."

Ashmore said, "That's a big part of this. The unknown. Athletes are feeling very anxious because they're not sure what's going to happen."

There have been rumblings when it comes to possibly holding the Games as scheduled. One New York Times website headline read, "IOC's reassurances about Tokyo Olympics rankles athletes."

A headline stated that an Olympic Committee board member had called for the postponement of the Games.

One New York Times website headline was particularly blunt: "Cancel. The. Olympics."

A lengthy communique Tuesday from the IOC made no mention of any possible postponement or cancellation of the Games.

"People that (committee members) listen to, from what I'm hearing, are calling for postponement until 2021," said Ashmore. "I only hear that from the swimming perspective. I'm not sure how it affects any other sport. I hear that, from swimming, they're putting the pressure on to postpone until 2021."

Ashmore said, "From our perspective, we're just hoping to stay in business. Two weeks (of pool closure) is not a big deal. But if this goes on eight, 10 weeks it's going to be really difficult to stay in business." 

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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