Tokyo 2020: Update from Roble and Shea
Published on July 27th, 2020
Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea, after earning Olympic selection to represent the USA in the Women’s Skiff (49erFx) event, provide this update as they remain focused on the Tokyo 2020 Games:
We hope you are staying healthy and able to enjoy some time on the water. We just wrapped up several weeks of intense training in Miami, and we are very grateful to be back together on the water and in the gym. With the unfortunate escalating COVID-19 situation at home, many of our training partners canceled their trips to join us, so we made other plans.
In order to compete in Kiel Week and the European Championships in Sept and Oct, we have to spend at least thirty days in Europe prior to those events. So now we are in Lake Garda, Italy doing two weeks of quarantine before we can hit the water. We’re sure the training will be epic, so the two-week wait will be worthwhile.
Embracing the Miami heat
When we started training on June 20 we hadn’t been on the water together in 3 months and had only been using home gym facilities. We were so excited to be reunited as a team and get back to what we love most, hard work. We knew our bodies wouldn’t be where we wanted them and that we would have to be patient with ourselves as we made our come back.
On June 15, Maggie packed up her Subaru with her life’s possessions and made the 1,500 mile drive to Miami. As a team we decided to make Miami home base for the next year leading up to the Games to maximize time on the water in endless summer conditions and take advantage of US Sailing Team resources nearby.
The extreme Miami heat forced us to dig deep mentally and physically to stay hydrated, manage energy levels, and embrace the sweat! We found out later that this first week of training was the hottest week ever in Miami. The good news is that the Miami heat is similar to Japan and helped us implement and develop cooling down techniques.
Over the last 4 weeks, we focused mainly on boat-handling in a variety of conditions and sharpening our bodies and minds to get back to where we left off in mid-March. We put in a lot of hours executing a variety of solo drills from tack/gybe on the whistle, repetitive starting practice, to a few crazy mark rounding drills with a lot of hoisting and dousing.
For the starts, we would complete five, 3-minute starts and sail a two-lap race after the fifth start. We also went “live” on Facebook for one of our gut-busting drills: pyramid laps. We sail laps around a windward/leeward course with increasing, then decreasing, number of laps in this order: 1 lap, 2-min break, 2 laps, 2-min break, 3 laps, 2-min break, 4 laps, and back down to 1.
Unfortunately, our coach Giulia wasn’t able to join us due to travel restrictions. But the COVID-19 situation has reminded us of the importance of turning negatives into positives and being adaptable. We were lucky to spend time on the water with Taylor Canfield, Alec Anderson, and Phil Muller.
Each coach brought a unique perspective. Training on your own can get a little boring, so having coaches who kept things entertaining and positive was crucial. Also, thanks to a recent donor, we have great technology to execute a remote coaching program.
In addition to training 5 days a week, we added 3 days of strength training with Dr. Micah Kust and Dr. Chris Ellis, both US Sailing Team coaches, in Fort Lauderdale, FL. They organized a safe environment for us to work out in and have physical therapy treatment.
Micah devoted a ton of time and energy to our program to help us build strength and agility to help us with achieving our weight gain goals (we are up 10 pounds as a team!). We are so grateful to have had these tools, especially as the COVID-19 situation worsened in Florida. Thank you, Chris and Micah!
Our rockstar Italian coach, Giulia Conti, pulled some strings and organized the opportunity for us to come to Lake Garda, Italy to train with the Italian Sailing Team. We are incredibly grateful for the efforts made by the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee, US Sailing Team, and the Italian Olympic Committee to make this trip happen.
After many of our training partners had to cancel their trips to join us in the States due to the escalating COVID-19 situation in FL, we decided to relocate to a place that was safe and offered some flexibility for future travel to regattas. For instance, Kiel Week, which will be sailed Sept 10-14 in Germany, recently banned competitors who would be traveling directly from hot-spot zones, which include Miami, unfortunately. We also hope to compete in the European Championships at the end of September in Austria.
We arrived with eight bags of gear, including 1 box of sails, 1 box of 2 masts, 1 bike box, and 5 duffel bags — we don’t pretend to travel light. We are now halfway through the mandatory, two-week quarantine. Although we haven’t left the property of our Airbnb, the views are beautiful, the store-bought pasta is delicious and we’re quite familiar with our home-gym equipment by now.
We plan to train in Lake Garda with the Italians and Argentinians until August 25. Lake Garda is known for having two distinct sea breezes – one from the north in the morning, and one from the south in the afternoon. This is the best venue in the world to maximize time on the water. And as lake girls, we love the fresh water. At the end of August, we will head to Aarhus, Denmark for an informal regatta, then onto Germany for Kiel Week, September 10-13.
The last few months have been a little crazy, but we’re doing what we are trained to do: adapt, pivot, and move forward. And especially in times like this, we are so grateful to have you on our team. #OneTeamOneMission
Tokyo Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021