After almost a year away from home, Team TTO’s top swimmer Dylan Carter has taken advantage of his exemption—like most Trinbagonians who were stuck outside when the Covid-19 pandemic struck—to spend time with his family.
Based in the US state of California where the novel coronavirus has been transmitting unrestrainedly, Carter has gained fresh perspective on the more important aspects of life. That includes spending quality time with his dad Everard, mom Tracy, sister Mila etc,—at an undisclosed North Coast location for the Christmas holidays.
“I took a pretty solid break after the ISL (International Swimming League) just because I was forced to with the quarantine to get back into Trinidad, but I think the timing with the second ASATT time-trial was just poor for me and my family,” Carter said about his decision to forsake that meet last Monday, “We planned a little getaway this weekend and that just kind of clashed... so in the end I thought the time with my family was a bit more important this time around to just kind of spend that time with them because I am definitely not going to get that time with my family later this year or heading into 2021. So I thought that was pretty important and that is why I decided to sit out the second time-trial.”
The ability to race at home in the first ASATT Short Course (25m) time-tiral last Friday was also a boon for the Team Elite Swim Club member, who is being tutored by US Olympic coach Dave Marsh.
“It was really fun to get up locally and race. I have always loved the (National) Aquatic Centre in Couva. I always race fast there. I don’t think I have ever gone there and thought, ‘wow, that was a horrible swim,’ Carter said. “I think the place is super awesome. It is a really fast pool and there is something about being in your home environment and being able to drive up from your home and go and race. That level of comfort that you have at home is something that I don’t usually have, being able to race in your home country. It gives you that extra level of comfort and in the future I would like to race more locally. I think it is really, really good to get up and race locally.”
Carter also treasured being able to interact with the some of the several age-groupers who were attempting to establish new national records at that meet. He found it gratifying to see that the young kids still had the desire to improve themselves.
“I thought that was really cool to see. I tried my best to offer advice, encouragement and tips to them. I am no coach but I do have a lot of experience at this point and I can see small things especially in young kids in terms of strokes (technique), so I tried to offer a couple of tips to make them better; a couple of key changes,” Carter related.
The 24-year-old University of Southern California graduate has gained more appreciation for those occasions. And with people losing their lives, jobs and livelihoods since the advent of the pandemic, he has adopted a more positive outlook on swimming and life given the cloud of doubt Covid-19 had cast on the globe.
That includes his feelings about the next year’s planned major sporting event: the re-scheduled Tokyo2020 Olympics.
“I have no fears about Covid-19 or the Olympics,” the 2019 Commonwealth Games silver medallist emphasised. “I am very much at peace with whatever happens with the Olympics. It looks like they are going to have the Olympics. If they don’t come off, I’ll deal with that. Right now I don’t know when I’ll be able to compete. I am hoping for maybe around May but that could always change, so I have let go of uncertainty a long time ago because there is so much uncertainty that comes with this (pandemic), so constantly holding onto fear in the face of this is just going to get me in a state of paranoia, so I am not worried about it.”
With a mandatory 14-day quarantine period as a condition of his return to Trinidad meaning no training time in the pool, the 2019 Pan American Games bronze medallist said there is no rush to jump-start his training schedule—to progressively increase volume and intensity. However, he should be back at work in full Thursday coming.
“I know I am in great shape and I think I am not viewing this rest as a setback. Rest is also productive, so I think it is a mindset that some swimmers are stuck in, that rest will set you back, but I think a couple of weeks rest is actually setting me up well (mentally and physically) for this next year rather than setting me back,” he said.
When he resumes, Carter will aspire to rejoin his world class group, a group he deems “super important” in his quest to continue to be the best swimmer he can be. The five-time medallist at the 2019 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games also plans to give more “love” and focus on the untapped potential of his backstroke event by building his upper body strength that still suffers from a slight shortfall of power following a left pectoral injury sustained two years ago.
But despite whatever transpires in 2021, Carter will still take strength from home and his family.