Local swimmer Michael Hampel was set to compete in this year’s Olympic Trials before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the sports world to a screeching halt. The Trials, initially set to begin July 24 of this year, were postponed until July 23 of 2021.
After securing their third conference championship in school history at Missouri State University on March 7, Hampel and a few teammates initially looked to decompress briefly before beginning their preparations for the Olympics.
“We were back in the pool on March 10 getting ready for the Trials, then I go home for spring break and everything is closed,” Hampel said. “It was another three weeks before they announced they were postponing Trials. I was in scramble mode.”
With a diverse background in athletics and some local resources, he managed to make the most of his tenure at home.
“All I had at home was two 50-pound dumbbells and a yoga mat,” Hampel said. “I reached out to my club coach Vali Preda at the (Owensboro Health) Healthpark to see if he had anything I could borrow.”
The two have maintained a close relationship since Hampel was a sophomore in high school, so Preda was happy to help. He added a full weight set, barbells and a weight bench to his collection.
Hampel remained positive, and through dedication actually trimmed his body fat by 3-4% during the last few months.
“I just kept a positive mentality and strived to remember the importance of the little things,” he said. “I’m used to other sports so it was nothing for me to go out and run five miles.”
After recording a personal best of 1:03.28, Hampel ranks 76th in the country in the 100M breaststroke. Only the top 70-100 swimmers in the nation, depending on qualifying marks, reach the Olympic Trials.
“The guys I’ve been training with and I wanted to qualify a year early so we could see how far we could make it,” he said. “We were on track for a great summer until all of this hit.”
Hampel returned to Missouri earlier this month, when he was able to get back in a pool for the first time since mid-March. He will remain there for approximately two weeks and evaluate what his next move is.