Olympic swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky drives all over SoCal to find pools for Tokyo Games training

Written by Amy Ta and Jenna Kagel, produced by Christian Bordal

Jordan Wilimovsky is competing in the 10,000 meter open water race in the Summer Olympics. He’s been training in a pool, and navigating pandemic-forced pool closures have been tough. “I've been driving all over the place, going out to Burbank to train there, or commuting back and forth to Mission Viejo to train. … Just recently I have been able to find consistent training in Los Angeles,” he says. Photo by Mike Lewis.

Jordan Wilimovsky is competing in the 10,000 meter open water race in the Summer Olympics. He’s been training in a pool, and navigating pandemic-forced pool closures have been tough. “I've been driving all over the place, going out to Burbank to train there, or commuting back and forth to Mission Viejo to train. … Just recently I have been able to find consistent training in Los Angeles,” he says. Photo by Mike Lewis. 

The Tokyo Olympics start in July — after being postponed last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Malibu native Jordan Wilimovsky is getting ready to compete in the 10,000 meter race — that’s six miles of swimming in open water. 

Wilimovsky says that for the Olympics, about 25 swimmers race along a course — in a lake, river, or ocean — for two hours to try to reach the touchpad first. “Typically it’s four laps … kind of like a cycling race where everyone is drafting off each other in this big pack of swimmers.”

There’s a lot of physical contact too. “Some races I’ve done, there’s been [sic] 60 competitors. … When there’s that many people [who] all try to take the same line, you definitely run into other competitors, kind of get pushed or elbowed,” he describes. 

He says it was disappointing when the games were postponed in 2020. “You kind of feel like a year’s worth of work that you've been prepping to make sure you're at your best for that exact date — [that] kind of [went] out the window.” 

However, he acknowledges that waiting one year to compete isn’t “that big of a deal,” considering what’s been happening worldwide. “[Waiting] gave you a chance to reset and take a look back at your training and say, ‘What are some things that I can improve on?’ And [to] apply it to this year, getting ready for the Olympic Games this summer.”

One challenge during his training over the past year: pandemic-forced closure of many LA pools. “I've been driving all over the place, going out to Burbank to train there, or commuting back and forth to Mission Viejo to train. … Just recently I have been able to find consistent training in Los Angeles.”

He adds, “It's been pretty crazy this year trying to navigate the pandemic and make sure we're staying safe and doing the right thing, but also getting ready for the Olympic Games.”

Also at the Olympic Village this year, there will be enforced social distancing, daily COVID-19 testing, and possible contact tracing. Wilimovsky says he’s going into the games with an open mind and he’ll be ready for whatever the situation is like there. 


“It's been pretty crazy this year trying to navigate the pandemic and make sure we're staying safe and doing the right thing, but also getting ready for the Olympic Games,” says Jordan Wilimovsky. Photo by Mike Lewis.

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