July 11, 2021
Keanan Dols is set to join a very exclusive club when he represents Jamaica at the Tokyo Olympics in swimming.
The 22-year-old will be on the plane to Japan after clocking a national record 2:02.15 in the 200-metre individual medley in April at the 2021 Pro Swim Series in California. He becomes the third Jamaican swimmer to qualify since the start of the century and just the seventh male in the country's overall history.
“It's been an unreal experience to be honest,” Dols told the Observer. “This has been my goal ever since I was a little kid, to go to the Olympics and represent Jamaica, and to have that come true has been amazing!”
Dols, who moved to Florida in the United States from Savanna-La-Mar before the age of three, has always seemed destined to be a swimmer due to his mother who ran a swimming club in Negril.
“She actually founded the Negril Wave Runners and she ran that team until we left,” he recalled. “She was a swimmer growing up and she was a coach after she finished her swimming career, so I've always been in the water and she taught me how to swim.”
Many athletes expressed great disappointment following the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021 but it was a much-needed rest for Dols.
“I actually was dealing with a knee issue in 2020 and the extra year really helped me be confident that my legs were going to be in shape and what they needed to be because I was able to fully recover,” he said. “I feel like if the games would have gone on in 2020, I still would have been able to swim at a very high level but the extra year gave me the confidence to know I can do this, I can go these times and I can do what I need to qualify.”
Looking ahead at the Games, Dols doesn't see himself as a medalist, but he plans to reach new heights in his event.
“I'm excited to go and race the best in the world, give it all I have and just have fun racing,” he said. “I swam fast earlier this year; I just want to go faster than I was in April and I will be extremely happy with that.”
Dols has been grateful for the example set by Jamaica's 'swim queen' Alia Atkinson, who is set to make her fifth Olympic Games.
He said, “She's a great inspiration and she's the example of what any young athlete should strive to be in Jamaica. She's an incredible person and she's a great role model for all young swimmers. She's really paved the path for people to follow.”
The Tokyo Games will run from July 21 to August 8 with Dols expected to begin competition in the heats of the 200 metres individual medley on July 28.