LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kelsi Worrell Dahlia was out of the water for about five weeks, an eternity for a world-class swimmer. A strange time to be sure, but Dahlia kept great clarity.
"My faith is important," Dahlia said. "God gave me so much peace, and I was able to realize our safety and other people's safety is so much more important."
Unsure of when pools would be able to reopen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dahlia, her husband and friends installed an I-Pool by Fitmax in the backyard of their Louisville home. The pool is advertised as being less than the size of a minivan with an elastic band to hold a swimmer in place.
"It feels so great to be in the water," Dahlia said. "The sounds of being in the water is one of my favorite things. To be in the water again is just the best feeling, and swimming outside is even better."
An NCAA champion at the University of Louisville, an Olympic gold medalist and the top-ranked women's 100-meter butterflyer in the United States, Dahlia stayed in shape with on-land workouts during her time away from a pool. Those workouts are not the same as being in the water, however, even if you're not really going anywhere in the I-Pool.
"It's the feel of the water that you can't replicate, having the pressure on your hands and breathing and holding your breath," Dahlia said. "The hypoxic aspect is really, really tricky. I've been able to maintain my aerobic base by biking a lot and by going on walks with my dog, but there's a lot that you just can't replicate, and I was grateful to use the I-Pool."
Dahlia now has access to an outdoor pool at Blairwood and is training there with the group of U of L graduates who are swimming professionally.
"I've never been so excited to go to practice," she said.
Dahlia will still use the I-Pool on occasion as she gets ready for meets to resume — whenever that may be. The U.S. trials for the now-2021 Olympics in Tokyo are still about a year away.
"I'm really looking forward to racing again," Dahlia said.
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