Steamboat Springs Blake Worsley needed a break.
Swimming had been his life, and coming off the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Worsley was worn out. So he moved to Toronto in October, took an internship with the Toronto Argonauts football team and started to work.
Then he found himself back in the pool.
In early April at the Canadian World Championships Trials, Worsley won the 200-meter freestyle in 1 minute, 48.8 seconds, and qualified for the the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, from July 19 to Aug. 4. He also qualified for the 800 freestyle relay team.
Worsley admitted he surprised even himself with his finish and his time.
He’d spent October through December away from the pool and at his internship facilitating corporate partnerships for the 100th Grey Cup, which the Argonauts hosted. When the internship ended in December, Worsley started working with Ben Titley, who was the British National Team coach at the 2012 Olympics.
Worsley said he still wasn’t totally invested, but if Titley was willing to help him, he would swim.
“He basically was coaching me on the side,” Worsley said. “I was barely swimming. He was devoting a lot of time. I was inspired by that and liked that.”
So Worsley started training full time, working from January until the early April trials.
His time was barely slower than his Olympic time of 1:48.14.
“I was pretty shocked,” Worsley said. “It was out of the blue.”
Now, for the second time in a year, Worsley is at a crossroads. The break from swimming, the move to Toronto and the internship were steps Worsley said were necessary and allowed him to focus on acclimating to the work world.
The change was “harder than almost anything I’ve done,” he said. “It was one of those really difficult things. My goal when I was a child swimming was to make the Olympics. The essence of the goal was to attend the Olympics. I had a sense of fulfillment with that goal. Swimming after was difficult. You struggle to find a purpose in what you’re doing.”
That doesn’t mean Worsley is done with swimming. It also doesn’t mean he’s putting the 2016 Olympics on his calendar. He will compete at the World Championships in Barcelona. He’s also working on several side projects in Toronto, including swim clinics, and he talks about getting into marketing.
At the World Championships, he doesn’t have a set goal. At this point, if he continues to 2016, it’s not about just making the Olympics.
“I have an idea in my head. If I got a specific time, I’ll continue,” he said. “That time puts me on track to win an Olympic medal. But I’m being very realistic about it. I’ll swim through Barcelona and re-evaluate. I’m taking it year by year.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com