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Colorado Paralympic swimmer prepares to compete in Tokyo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Last time KRDO spoke with Paralympic swimmer Sophia Herzog of Denver, she was headed to London to compete in the 2019 World Championship. That event would help show where she stood ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games.

Those games would, however, didn't happen according to plan. When COVID-19 hit, the world was brought to a screeching halt, including the world of sports.

Pools were shut down and Herzog and her teammates were forced to find a new way to continue training for Tokyo.

"I ended up having to train in the Arkansas River because our pool shut down, and I never realized how dependent I was on people keeping a pool open," Herzog says.

Herzog describes training in the Arkansas River as "scary" -- unable to see the bottom of the cold, rushing waters. To aid in keeping up her endurance and cardio, she cross-trained by running and cycling.

"Cyclists could still cycle, runners could still run in their training. Whereas, all of us, my teammates, we were in a boat without a paddle," Herzog explains. "We were really trying to learn how to manipulate swimming outside of the pool, which is really hard to do and fairly impossible."

Despite the hardship, Herzog says the out-of-the-ordinary training toughened her up for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games.

"I think it makes going to the games that much sweeter. Doing something that outside my comfort zone, I'm really excited and proud of myself for."

Herzog and her team head to Japan in 11 days. She says she's ready to compete, and for her journey post-games.

"I'm going to retire after Tokyo," Sophia said. "It's kinda time for me to move on to my next chapter. What my next chapter is, I'm not sure. I've been swimming competitively with the Paralympics since I was 12 years old.".

Herzog says her only post-Paralympics plan right now is to utilize her business communications degree and hopes it involves animals or city work. She's also excited to see family she hasn't seen since pre-pandemic.

Most of all, she just wants to live life as a 24-year-old.

"It's been a wild year, to say the least, for sure."

Herzog's swimming career includes:

  • One-time Paralympian (2016); One-time medalist (1 silver)
  • Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, silver (100m breast), 6th (200m IM)
  • World Championship Experience
  • 2019 – 4th (100m breast), 8th (200m IM, 400m free)
  • Years of Participation: 2017, 2019
  • Medals: 5 (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)
  • Gold – 2017 (34 pt. 4x100m medley, 100m breast)
  • Silver – 2017 (200m IM)
  • Bronze – 2017 (100m free,100m back)
  • 2015 Parapan American Games, silver (100 breast, 200 IM, 20 pt. 4x50 relay), bronze (50 free)
  • 2015 CanAm Para Swimming Championship, gold (50m fly), silver (400m free, 100m free, 100m breast, 50m free)
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Natalie Haddad

Natalie is a traffic reporter and MMJ for Good Morning Colorado and KRDO. You can learn more about her here.

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