Brit swimmer Dean beats COVID twice to win gold at Olympics

Jul 26, 2021, 10:42 AM | Updated: Jul 27, 2021, 12:08 am

TOKYO (AP) — Britain’s Tom Dean contracted COVID-19 not once but twice in the run-up to the Olympics, leaving him doubting he’d make it to the national trials, never mind Tokyo.

He made it to both and much, much more, winning gold in the 200-meter freestyle on Tuesday and leading an historic 1-2 in swimming for Team GB as teammate Duncan Scott took silver.

“This is the single greatest achievement of my life,” Dean said.

It was also Britain’s first 1-2 finish in the pool at the Olympics in over 100 years, since the 1908 Games in London.

Dean wasn’t sure that kind of swim would be possible for him in January, when he got COVID for a second time in four months. His cardiovascular system was hit, his lungs hurt and he couldn’t stop coughing, he said. Training obviously came grinding to a halt as he had to stay in quarantine in his apartment.

The April trials were just three months away.

“The Olympic gold was a million miles away,” he said.

“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true having a gold around my neck.”

Countless Olympians have stories to tell about how the pandemic has intruded on their preparations for Tokyo and made it so much tougher than normal. But few have felt the effects of the illness as directly as Dean did — twice.

And even after the immediate symptoms subsided from his second infection in January, he couldn’t get straight back into the pool because of the lingering effects on his body. He was out of the pool for six to seven weeks, he said, trying to regain his strength.

“I’m thinking how am I going to be able to recover from this in time to get a solid block of work done before the Olympic trials?” he said. “It was tough kind of wrapping my head around that during an Olympic year.

“It wasn’t life-threatening … but when you are doing a sport that is quite heavy on the cardio-vascular system, and you can see it’s affecting your lungs, you’re coughing and all that stuff, you’re a little bit worried about how you’re going to build back in.”

The 21-year-old Dean feared his chance at an Olympic debut was gone but credited coach David McNulty for calming him down, and then building him back up again.

Dean’s victory was a surprise within Team GB, with teammate Scott tipped as the likelier gold-medal chance out of the two of them. Dean edged out Scott by just four-hundredths of a second, and also took the British record off Scott.

“He’s got big arms does Dean-o so you’d probably have to be several meters in front to touch him out,” said Scott, who handled his disappointment with grace.

“It was great. With what’s he’s (Dean) been through this year, it’s special.”

___

More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws during the first half of an NFL football game ag...
Associated Press

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers leaves vs. Eagles with oblique injury

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers left Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles with an oblique injury late in the third quarter and was questionable to return. Rodgers already played the last several weeks with a broken right thumb and appeared in pain during a drive in the third that led […]
20 hours ago
Vancouver Canucks left wing Andrei Kuzmenko celebrates after scoring during overtime in the team's ...
Associated Press

Andrei Kuzmenko scores in OT, Canucks beat Sharks 4-3

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Andrei Kuzmenko scored at 1:12 of overtime to give the Vancouver Canucks a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. Kyle Burroughs and Ilya Mikheyev also scored for the Canucks, and Thatcher Demko made 32 saves. Luke Kunin scored twice and Logan Couture also connected for San […]
20 hours ago
Seattle Kraken's Vince Dunn (29) leaps to avoid a check from Anaheim Ducks' Sam Carrick (39) during...
Associated Press

Kraken rally to beat Ducks 5-4 for 5th straight win

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Matty Beniers had a goal and two assists, Daniel Sprong scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the Seattle Kraken tied a franchise record with their fifth consecutive victory, 5-4 over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. Jared McCann, Alex Wennberg and Vince Dunn scored in the first […]
20 hours ago
Milwaukee Bucks' Grayson Allen knocks the ball from Dallas Mavericks' Tim Hardaway Jr. during the f...
Associated Press

Allen’s hot start helps Bucks defeat Mavericks 124-115

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and the Milwaukee Bucks capitalized on Grayson Allen’s sizzling start to beat Dallas 124-115 on Sunday, handing the Mavericks their fourth straight loss. Allen scored 22 points in the game’s first 17 ½ minutes while shooting 7 of 7 from beyond the arc, tying his career high […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Walker double-double powers Nebraska past Florida St., 75-58

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Derrick Walker put up a double-double and Nebraska pulled away from Florida State in the second half to win the seventh-place game of the ESPN Events Invitational on Sunday night, posting a 75-58 victory. Walker converted 10 of his 12 field-goal attempts and scored 20 points to lead five Cornhuskers into […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Michigan women beat Baylor for Gulf Coast Showcase title

ESTERO, Fla. (AP) — Emily Kiser scored 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds, Laila Phelia added 20 points and No. 22 Michigan scored the final 11 points Sunday night to beat No. 21 Baylor 84-75 in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. Maddie Nolan scored seven of her 12 points […]
20 hours ago
Brit swimmer Dean beats COVID twice to win gold at Olympics