Jesse Goodyear continues training in Australia


Image courtesy of Jesse Goodyear

Zack Goodrow, Sports Editor

The summer of 2020 has been filled with turmoil for student-athletes at Grand Valley State University. With campus closing down in the middle of March and the start of quarantine in Michigan, the remainder of spring sports were suspended.

Athletes were forced to leave campus, unable to train or practice with their teams. Until recent news was released on conference only schedules for fall sports, many athletes were left in limbo about the fate of the upcoming sports seasons. 

While it was extremely difficult for athletes to go home and be isolated from their teams and coaches, the challenges were greater for students who live outside the United States. One of those students, junior Jesse Goodyear, was forced to return to his home in Australia as the COVID-19 pandemic played out. 

Goodyear returned home on March 16. He lives just outside of Sydney, the largest city in Australia. The COVID-19 situation in Australia has arguably been managed better than here in the U.S. With significantly fewer cases than the United States, and even Michigan for that matter, Goodyear may be in a safer situation back at home. Regardless, he is still almost 10,000 miles away from his teammates and coaches and has dealt with his own country’s second surge of cases. 

New South Wales, the state that Sydney is in, is seeing about 15 new cases a day,” Goodyear said. “However we border Victoria, which is currently going through a second wave. Masks are now mandatory and they’re recording up to 700 cases a day. Our border is now shut down, but fears are it may be too late to contain the crisis. It’s the worst we’ve seen in Australia. People in my city are becoming a little nervous. Sydney-siders are being very careful and social distancing even though most restrictions have been lifted and most activities like schools are back.”

Goodyear and his family have fortunately not been severely affected by the virus, even with the new breakout. Everyone is safe and healthy, and his parents have been able to work.

This pandemic has left people feeling isolated and stressed, without support and contact with friends. Luckily for Goodyear, he has been able to isolate with his family and find comfort. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t experienced stress and loneliness away from his teammates and closest friends. 

“I am always in contact with friends in the States and Europe,” Goodyear said. “I talked with my coaches just to keep in touch, which I found really helped me during the lockdown.”

Goodyear has also found relief from the weight of the pandemic in what he does best: swimming. Even though it seems that the world has shut down, for the time being, training never ends for last year’s GLIAC Male Swimmer of the Year.

Fifty minutes away from his home, Goodyear trained in a rock pool off the south coast of Sydney. With easy access to the pool, Goodyear has been able to prepare for GVSU’s upcoming season unlike many of his other teammates. Swimming back home in Australia didn’t come without challenges, however.  

“Due to the pool being hit by waves and coastal weather constantly, I couldn’t really do actual sessions,” Goodyear said. “I instead did 5 kilometers of straight swimming, which got incredibly boring. I would always remember how fortunate I was to have this luxury in these times. As Australian winter also began to hit, I was swimming in the pool when it was 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which made me really miss swimming in heated pools.” 

A member of the Australian national team, Goodyear was able to resume training with them with government approval.  Goodyear has been in touch with his Australian teammates, but GVSU swimming and diving head coach Andy Boyce has made sure to keep his team connected as well during the pandemic.

Boyce has created numerous Zoom calls to relay new information and to stay in touch with all his swimmers. It’s an especially daunting task with players spread out across the U.S., Europe and Australia, but Boyce lived up to the challenge.   

“Coach Boyce has relayed all information to the team very well with whatever he finds,” Goodyear said. “He always tells the team straight away. He, like the rest of the team, really wants the season to start up, however, it is all still unknown. There have been talks of possibly doing three separate practices a day to be able to incorporate social distancing within the pool.” 

With all players being in the same pool for meets and tournaments, it may be difficult to incorporate social distancing. However, the chlorine in the water may help to combat the spread of the virus.

The future developments of the virus will dictate the season’s fate. For now, the swimming and diving team will operate with their normal beginning of the season schedule. But there will be nothing normal about Goodyear’s return to Michigan. 

“I hope for now that I have overcome all the challenges of returning to the (United) States,” Goodyear said. “Due to Australia’s island geography and somewhat close to COVID-free status, the Australian government is restricting any incoming flights and placing all arrivals into hotel quarantine for two weeks.”

Australia’s strict travel requirements have made it difficult for Goodyear to come back to the United States. He applied for an exemption with the Australian government, which was fortunately approved.

Goodyear, along with fellow GVSU teammate Melina De Cort, plan to come back to Michigan Aug. 12. Goodyear and De Cort will both have to quarantine for two weeks before they can return to campus. 

Goodyear has faced numerous challenges this summer, but hopefully, the 1000-meter GLIAC record time holder returns to his second home at GVSU safely.