Swimmer Keanan Dols sees positives despite Tokyo exitThursday, July 29, 2021
TOKYO, Japan — Keanan Dols has ended participation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games a satisfied man, not for his exploits in the swimming pool at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, but for gaining the experience of competition on the grandest of stages.
Dols finished third in heat one of the men's 200m individual medley (IM) on Wednesday night here, clocking a pedestrian 2:04.29 minutes which landed him in 43rd position of the 45 competitors.
In his first swim in the 200m butterfly on Sunday, he was also third in his heat in 2:00.25 minutes, an effort which saw him finish in 34th place overall, well outside the top 16 which advanced to the semi-finals.
The University of Pennsylvania student was never going to be a medal contender at this edition of the Olympics, but he now knows what the Olympics are all about and now his sights are firmly set on improving over the next three years to make a much better push for medals when the Paris Games come calling.
“Well, I wasn't really good right there. I haven't seen the race splits or any of that. Not so proud with the time, but it's a lot of fun racing here, a great experience and I'm really looking forward to the meets we have upcoming in the next 12 months, three pretty bigs ones and I'll be at hopefully all three,” was his immediate reaction to his performance on Wednesday night.
“I'm not super happy with it but I felt like it could have been faster, my warm-up was really good today [but] I just didn't put it together in the race and it happens sometimes and I'm just happy to have been here and to have competed, it was in incredible experience,” he added.
The 22-year-old now wants to get back on the journey to build up a decent career in swimming and has set specific targets for the next three years leading up to Paris.
“Hopefully, the goals are to be the fastest in the Caribbean in the history of the 200 fly (butterfly). I think the fastest is 1:58.2 minutes, so hopefully I can be 1:58.0, and 1:57 would be awesome and then be under two minutes in the 200 IM would be two big goals for the next three years,” he said.
In Wednesday's event, the stronger of his two specialities, Dols entered the contest with a personal best of 2:02.15 minutes, but finished more than two seconds off that mark. He wasn't sure what accounted for such a below part effort on the day.
“I felt good, I felt like the first 50 (butterfly) was pretty good, I don't know if I was out as fast as I've ever been but it felt smooth. I had a good turn (back strike), I actually felt a little iffy, breaststroke (third 50m) felt pretty good and then the freestyle (last 50m) I think it was okay. I haven't seen the numbers yet, could tell you more if I had seen them, but it actually didn't feel very good,” was his explanation, post-race.
His immediate plans are to get back to swimming in the fall and helping his university improve to compete in the Ivy League, and then make another push to qualify to the Paris Olympics.
And with Jamaican great Alia Atkinson planning to call time on her outstanding career at year's end, Dols is willing to take on the mantle of standard bearer for Jamaica's swimming. But he hopes to pull others along with him.
“She leaves behind some really big shoes to fill, having gone to five Olympics, being a world record holder, being a world champion. I could only dream of reaching the levels that she has and I don't think I'll have quite the career she's had, but I'm excited to be the standard bearer for Jamaica and hopefully bring some other people with me so we have good participation at world championships and Commonwealths and next Olympic Games,” he said.
And on Atkinson's mentorship, he was generous.
“She's a true professional and she's shown what it means to be successful from the Caribbean region. She's been an incredible role model for me over the years and she's inspired many, many swimmers, not just from Jamaica, not just from the region, but across the globe being a representative for black swimmers from anywhere in the world and just showing them what is possible,” he said.
— Ian Burnett
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