The stakes were very high for British swimming Olympian Tom Dean when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 not once, but twice, ahead of the Olympic trials before the delayed Tokyo games in 2021. Despite this, the swimmer ended up with two gold medals and a British record.
Dean told reporters that he had first tested positive for the virus in September 2020, and battled a more serious case of it in January 2021, a few months before the April trials. Training came to a halt because of quarantine, and his cardiovascular system was hit, his lungs hurt, and he couldn’t stop coughing, according to the swimmer.
Dean added that he was out of the pool for six to seven weeks before the trials because he was trying to regain his strength after COVID.
“It wasn’t life-threatening ... but when you are doing a sport that is quite heavy on the cardiovascular system, and you can see it’s affecting your lungs, you’re coughing and all that stuff, you’re a little bit worried about how you’re going to build back in,” he said in an interview.
But in late July, he won gold in the 200-meter men’s freestyle, and with his team in the freestyle relay. He also led Team Great Britain in a historic 1-2 victory in the individual freestyle as his teammate won the silver. This was the first 1-2 finish in the pool for Great Britain since 1908. He also set a British-record time of 1:44.22 in the men’s freestyle.