After a long period of sitting at home, top swimmer Arno Kamminga finally returned to the water a few weeks ago. The corona crisis put an end to what should have been a dream season for him, but the Katwijker refuses to sit down. "A reset button has been pressed and that offers opportunities."
Train, sleep and travel. At a press meeting in Papendal, 24-year-old Kamminga doesn't need a lot of words to summarize his busy top sport life, but that daily life changed completely when the corona crisis started. Tournaments were canceled and 'his' Sloterparkbad in Amsterdam was locked in March.
"I've never been home for more than three weeks at a time in the past four years. I've been home for three months now," says Kamminga. "Suddenly I had time to play again, for example. That was genius and fun at first, but the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch couldn't give me the satisfaction that swimming gives me."
"Physically, sitting at home was not so bad, because you can cycle, run or work with weights to keep fit. Mentally it is a lot more difficult, because all your plans for 2020 are in the water. The first weeks were I am also all alone at home. Only then do you notice how lonely that can be. "
Training has been possible again for a few weeks, but the current situation remains a strange sensation for Kamminga. The breaststroke specialist, who holds all Dutch records in his favorite discipline, edged his own top times countless times in the past year. The icing on the cake came in early March, when he showed once again at a tournament in Antwerp with historical times in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke to belong to the world top.
Arno Kamminga was in top form in the first months of 2020. (Photo: Pro Shots)
"I see the beauty in what I don't have"
Frustrations about all canceled tournaments and the one-year-old Olympics would have made perfect sense for the top-notch Kamminga, but he didn't linger in that disappointment. In fact, after a short bale period, he took advantage of the past few months.
"Of course I hated it, but this period also offers opportunities. For the whole world, the reset button has been pressed. You will soon go back to the daily grind and continue to whine about what you can not, or will you see this period as an opportunity to become a better version of yourself? "Kamminga wonders aloud.
"If you watch the news now, everything is negative and everyone is just whining. But I am completely done with that negative thing. Of course it is more difficult for someone who loses his job, but as a top athlete with certainty I prefer to talk about the opportunities. I see the beauty of what I don't have, or what I actually do have. "
Arno Kamminga hits a ball during the meeting at Papendal. (Photo: Pro Shots)
"I know I belong to the absolute top"
The training sessions of Kamminga are now in full swing, but it is currently unclear what the Dutch top swimmers can focus on. All major tournaments have been moved to 2021, and of the upcoming events this year, the question is whether they can continue.
Until then, Kamminga swims against herself in the training pool in Amsterdam, with the aim of getting closer to the world record of Adam Peaty in the 100-meter breaststroke. The difference with the reigning Olympic champion at that distance is still 1.6 seconds (58.43 to 56.88).
"He's going to be a father this summer, so those are going to be a lot of sleepless nights and other priorities," Kamminga says with a smile. "You can't assume it, but with a bit of luck it will slide in my favor a bit. I still have a lot of stretch in it and there is still a lot to gain in all areas."
In any case, there is no lack of confidence with Kamminga, who in 2021 can become the first Dutchman since Pieter van den Hoogenband to win a medal at the Games among men. "I used to have to prove myself time and time again to fit in. Now I know that I belong to the absolute top," said Kamminga.
"There are plenty of people who can get to the top technically and physically. But the conviction that you can win, the mental aspect, you see in very few swimmers. I currently have the line with the highest improvements in the whole field Let the rest be scared, I'll be right there. "