Olympics: Hospital stint gives rower Swann new perspective


(Reuters) – British rower Polly Swann had been preparing for the Tokyo Olympics when the Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and she has since traded the boat for the even higher stakes of a hospital ward.

A silver-medallist at the 2016 Olympics in the women’s eights, Swann qualified as a doctor in 2019 before resuming her rowing career but has returned to the medical profession at a time when hospitals are under immense pressure.

Since April, she has been working three days a week as a junior doctor at a hospital in Scotland.

But Swann is still keeping an eye on the postponed Games, which are set to take place from July 2021, and she believes her experience in the medical profession can benefit her rowing career.

“It’s definitely given me some perspective, looking after sick people and caring for them makes you think sport isn’t the be all and end all,” Swann told Reuters in an interview.

“It’s a privilege and luxury to do rowing but it makes me think it’s not as high pressure and all-encompassing as I think. Maybe I’ll go back in the summer and feel rested and ready to go and excited and not feel the intense pressure of the Olympics.”

Swann cycles to and from the hospital in order to maintain her fitness levels and once she is home from work she fits in a session on rowing and cycling machines, while she returns to her normal training routine on days off.

But she is keen to get back to normality and has her fingers crossed that the Games will be able to take place in July 2021.

“A Tokyo Olympics after the coronavirus crisis will be next level,” she added.

“There’s something very raw about sport, everybody coming together and putting their best performances out on the line, across so many different sports, so many competitors, with so many families and spectators coming to watch.

“It’s phenomenal really. I hope with all my heart it does go ahead, it’ll be a fantastic Olympics if it does but it has to be under the right conditions.”

Reporting by Lee Smith, writing by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis