Amélie Kretz is swimming to Tokyo, tethered by a rope in her parents’ garage

If creativity in finding ways to keep training since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world of sport was a competition in itself, triathlete Amélie Kretz would have to be considered among the favourites for the gold medal.

“I was just trying to find a way to get in the water, and I saw something from a girl in Europe,” said the 26-year-old Olympic triathlete. “She had a pool outside.”

“There is no way I can put a pool outside right now. It’s too cold. So I asked my parents if I could use their garage.”

Her parents weren’t too keen on the idea of putting a pool in the garage of their Sainte-Thérèse, Que., home at first, but they eventually agreed to let her give it a shot.

After spending $350 on the pool and a day to set it up with her mother’s help, voilà! Kretz had a place she could swim.

“It’s the best solution for me right now,” Kretz says, who was in the middle of trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020 when the pandemic hit.

She posted to Instagram a video of herself using the homemade contraption, and the reaction was immediate. The video went viral, and now other athletes are asking her for advice on how to make their own garage-based pools.

“My social media is kind of blowing up,” Kretz says. “I’m hoping that it’s going to help a few people who want to get in the pool.”

Chilly water notwithstanding …

Kretz says the biggest challenge is getting the water to a decent temperature.

When she first got into the water it was a chilly 10 degrees, and she said even wearing a wet suit, it was tough to stay in for more than a few minutes without her face going numb.

She has since cranked up the heat in the garage to 30 C. That, combined with adding hot water to the pool, has raised the temperature enough that she can train comfortably.

Amélie Kretz, left, exits the water after the swim leg at the ITU World Triathlon Series event in Edmonton in 2018. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Otherwise, she said, her homemade endless pool — she is tethered in — is working like a charm.

“It’s been pretty smooth,” Kerz said.

“I go in every morning just to check to see if the water is in the pool and not everywhere in the garage because I think it would be a pretty funny story to explain to the insurance company if we had a flooded garage.”

Kretz was in Australia, competing in the Mooloolaba International Triathlon Union World Cup on the Sunshine Coast on March 14 — the very day the ITU pulled the plug on all competitions in the world triathlon calendar until April 30, due to the pandemic.

She is unsure about what her path to the Tokyo Olympics will look like, now that the games are delayed until 2021.

“It’s pretty hard training hard, not knowing when I’m going to race again. But I do this sport because I love it. I love pushing myself everyday. That hasn’t changed. I’m just finding new ways to do it,” Kretz said.

“Training keeps me sane.”

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