On this most disappointing day, Abby Hay was sitting in her home in Western Pennsylvania, taking an online course produced at the University of Louisville when it was determined she would not be headed to Omaha in June or possibly Japan in July.
Worse, her toes had not touched the chlorinated water of a swimming pool in nearly two weeks.
Hay, who spent two years on the Peters Township varsity swim team and who qualified for the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, in June had everything put on hold Tuesday.
The International Olympic Committee postponed the Olympics until the summer of 2021 at the earliest, acting at the recommendation of Japan’s prime minister, because of the contagious threat of the coronavirus.
In a meet held last summer in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hay qualified for the Olympic trials in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:51.79, .47 seconds faster than the USA swimming trials standard for women in that event.
“When I made trials last year, I was just happy I made it because I was not close to (the qualifying time) so this was going to be a learning experience,” said Hay. “It’s obviously going to be a lot more pressure than normal meets, including college meets, because that’s when people from all around the nation are watching.”
When administrators at Louisville shut the school and sent students home two weeks ago after suspending athletic activities immediately and indefinitely, Hay was left without a place to train or a pool to train in. She was asked to return home, where she is finishing spring courses online.
“There are no pools available so the coaches told us to just go home and be with your family because there is nothing to do,” said Hay. “So, I would say it’s probably best that it got pushed back because no one can do any training. It just doesn’t make any sense. There are just a limited amount of pools open across the country.”
Hay gets her workouts at home with access to more equipment now that the school is shuttered.
“Over the years, I added some stuff I could use,” Hay said. “I have a (stationary) bike in my attic and a place where I can do pull-ups and other exercises. The trails are open for running but the weather hasn’t been good.”
Hay began her academic and athletic careers at Peters Township, but spent the last two years of high school at the Hawken School in Gates Mills, in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. She was an outstanding swimmer at both places and was one of the highest-ranked recruits in the nation.
In her freshman and sophomore seasons at Peters Township, Hay won three WPIAL Class AAA individual titles. She won the 200 IM and 500 free as a freshman in 2016 and repeated in the 500 free in 2017.
Hay followed her head coach at Peters Township, Todd Clark, to the Hawken School for the final two seasons of her high school career. She was a part of two state relay records at the 2018 Ohio State Division II swimming and diving championships and she won two silver individual medals. Hay was the Ohio state champion in the 200 IM and runner-up in the 100 butterfly as a senior.