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This Olympic swimmer is using a tiny, inflatable pool to train during isolation

With an inflatable pool and a rope tied around a belt, Dutch swimmer Sharon van Rouwendaal is making the most of a bad situation.

Sharon van Rouwendaal is an elite distance swimmer who took home a gold medal for the Netherlands at the 2012 Olympics in the 10K open water event by pulling away from the field midway through the race and winning by 17 seconds. She told Medium that her typical training week includes swimming about 90K over 10 three-hour sessions. That’s a lot of time in the pool.

With swim clubs shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, van Rouwendaal came up with a novel approach to getting her laps. Wearing a belt around her wetsuit that’s tied to a rope attached to a pole to keep her in place, van Rouswendaal is swimming laps in an inflatable pool.

As she noted in her Instagram post, she could only stay in the water for about 45 minutes because it was “very cold.” One wonders how cold water must be for an Olympic champion open-water swimmer to consider it too cold to swim. We’re going to guess the answer is, “Very, very cold.”

The 2020 games in Tokyo have been rescheduled for the summer of 2021, giving athletes time to rest and consider their options. Covid-19 has closed training facilities, leaving Olympic hopefuls searching for ways to stay in shape. As van Rouwendaal noted, “There is always an alternative. You just have to be creative.”