Penny Olexiak still hopes to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The seven-time Olympic medalist withdrew from the World Swimming Championships on June 1 due to injury. She underwent knee surgery to repair a meniscus injury in her knee, which initially sidelined her, but she later suffered a compensatory injury to her shoulder, she said. .
A neurological problem with his shoulder forced him out of the world championships after playing in Barcelona on the Mare Nostrum Tour in May.
“It’s definitely been a year of learning. It’s been fun learning about my body and learning how to heal it faster and more,” Oleksiak said Wednesday. “Now I’m overcoming that injury, slowly returning to training and working towards 2024.”
Oleksiak made the comments while speaking on stage to hundreds of spectators at the Exhibition Place at the Collision technology conference in downtown Toronto.
The 22-year-old swimmer said he had never been injured before, so he didn’t fully understand the post-surgery rehabilitation process. That included nine weekly pool sessions, as well as Pilates and strength training right after her knee surgery.
“As a kid, I was always so scared of missing swim meet or missing the event,” Olexiak said. “I thought I had to go to every event, but at some point I got a little tired.
“I felt a lot of pressure and went through some pretty difficult times, but I think this past year has really taught me who I am as a non-swimmer.”
She said being physically alienated meant she had to explore her own interests outside of athletics, which led her to become a richer person.
“Being in so many great rooms, talking to so many great people, experiencing so many things, I realized I had so many interests outside of swimming,” Olexiak said. “But just the resilience, strength and endurance it takes to come back from injury is insane.
“I never thought it would take this much patience to get there,” she adds with a laugh.
Olexiak won four medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics and three more at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on June 28, 2023.