Long-time Texas swimming coach Eddie Reese, a former U.S. Olympic swimming coach, said Tuesday he wasn’t the least bit surprised that the 2020 Games are being postponed.
“They had to do it,” said Reese, who has served as head coach of the Olympic swim team three different times. “I really thought the Olympics would be put back six or eight weeks because I’m thinking this would be over (long before then), but they had to postpone.”
Reese said he doesn’t pretend to know whether it took too long to decide to move the Games to 2021.
“Who knows that?” he said. “It’s like the coronavirus. We’re not going to know if we’ve done too much. We’ll only know if we’ve done too little. I never envisioned them just saying we’re going to cancel it and go to 2024. We’re playing this by ear.”
Reese wasn’t part of the current U.S. Olympic coaching staff, but was head coach in 1992, 2004 and 2008 and worked as a U.S. assistant coach at four other Games. Over his 41 previous collegiate swimming seasons at Texas, he has coached 29 Olympians who have combined to claim 39 gold medals, 16 silvers and eight bronzes.
The Longhorns coach said he would have expected “four or five” of his swimmers to have qualified at the Olympic Trials in Omaha this June for the Games, but he declined to name them. Two of his swimmers, senior freestyler Maxime Rooney and junior backstroker Austin Katz, were among the athletes who had posted the top-five times in their events in 2019.
“I’d be very disappointed if they (four or five) didn’t make it,” Reese said. “But there are no no-brainers (to make the team) because we’re that kind of competitive and that fast of a swimming country. The Olympic Trials were going to be wide open, and next year’s will be even more wide open.”
He said the postponement of the Games until 2021 should boost swimming and diving performances because the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has closed down U.S. pools and forced athletes to halt their training.
“We were waiting on the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese Olympic Committee,” Reese said. “Because of the lack of training going on now, to have had an Olympics this year would have been like having it in name only because we wouldn’t have had the great performances that usually occur in the Olympics.”
Reese does praise the decision-makers for making the postponement.
“We’ve gone all in in more complete fashion than we ever have,” he said. “We are the greatest fix-it nation in the world, but we’ve never been a big preventative nation. Now we’re going to that.”