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Colorado Champions: U.S. Swimmers prepare for Worlds and Paralympics

Right here in Colorado Springs, several swimmers are gearing up for the next Paralympics, and this week they are competing at the World Championship in London.

For many of these U.S. athletes, it’s the last event where the best of the best will square off until Tokyo.

Sophia Herzog is a U.S. Paralympic silver medalist who’s eyeing the 2020 games.

“I’m averaging about 20 hours a week in the water and six hours a week in the gym so with that I’ve gained some speed over the years,” says Herzog.

The 22-year-old has some serious hardware.

“I’m two-time world champion and then five-time world medalist,” says Herzog.

Herzog’s training mate, Evan Austin, is also a highly impressive swimmer. Austin is a two-time paralympian, hungry for his first medal in Tokyo.

“To me, I’ve always been the kinda guy that failure is one of my most powerful motivators and it just didn’t sit right with me that I haven’t got that medal or that piece of hardware yet,” says Austin.

But all of that looks to be changing for Austin. This week in London, he won his first world title. Austin and Herzog’s coach says this event is a critical competition ahead of Tokyo.

“It’ll be a good test to see where you are against the world’s best,” says Nathan Manley. “It’s not the ultimate goal, that’s another year out, but we’d like to put out some pretty good times this year.”

As we inch closer to Tokyo, both swimmers have a different mindset for achieving their goals; Austin is going in as the hunter.

“Evan has been in the game a little while, and he’s been able to participate at the last two games, but really coming into this one he’s actually very competitive for medals and that brings a bit of a different feel to the process,” says Manley.

“That four years just feels a little bit longer, especially when you are in the middle of a really hard set and you are thinking to yourself, ‘Is it actually worth it, do I really need it that bad, do I want this, is this how I should occupy my time?’ And every time that question has popped into my mind the answer has been yes,” says Austin.

Herzog is the hunted.

“The pressure is real, but pressure is a privilege, and so I’m really honored to be swimming under that type of pressure,” says Herzog. “My goals are to do the same or better than I did in Rio, so I am setting some pretty lofty goals, but I feel confident in myself that I can accomplish it.”

The U.S. Paralympic swimming team has won countless medals this week at Worlds. We’ll be sure to let you know how Sophia does on the 15th in the 100m breaststroke.

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