Paralympian Braedan Jason.
Paralympian Braedan Jason.

My 2020 vision has been blurred by coronavirus

THOSE who still remember the DVD's reign over the living room, reflect on this: how frustrating was it when you discovered a scratch on your disc?

Would it not freeze at the most tension-soaked scene of the film? Coronavirus has been that scratch on my swimming DVD. It is no one's fault and I cannot fix it but it's there in all its paused frustration.

Nothing compares to the Olympic Games. It is indescribable - a whole other beast compared with any competition on the planet.

It takes four years to prepare for that beast. But now it's five years, and if the build-up correlates to the size of the beast, then Tokyo 2021 will be the biggest beast of all time. But as it grows, I sit directionless on my couch, binge-watching Breaking Bad.

Paralympian Braedan Jason.
Paralympian Braedan Jason.

"It's a whole other year of training, though, Braedan," people say. "Doesn't that mean you'll be a whole year better?"

Yes and no.

I had planned my university studies at USC so that I would graduate one week before the now-cancelled Australian Team selection trials. The plan was to then be selected and focus my time and energy completely on the Games.

Post-Tokyo was set to be a reflection period of whether I wanted to transition into my career as a graduated journalist, or continue following the black line as I have done professionally since 2015. Usually a DVD scratch could be buffed out and you're back watching your film within minutes. Not for me. My "film" is not only paused for an entire year, but now the ending has changed.

"You can still train through isolation, though, Braedan," some other people would say.

Yes and no. No number of push-ups, sit-ups and exercise-bike sessions in front of the TV can relate to swim fitness.

"You can still swim in the ocean, though, Braedan," they would say. Yes and no.

I've always been a very competent ocean swimmer.

I've adapted to ocean swimming throughout my youth, being one of the only legally blind competitors in nippers.

But the reason why I gave up surf lifesaving is the same as why pool swimming is so different to ocean swimming for me. There's no black line.

Sunshine Coast swimmers Braedan Jason (left) and Michael Anderson when they qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.
Sunshine Coast swimmers Braedan Jason (left) and Michael Anderson when they qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.

The black line is my cane, my guide dog, my trusted companion that I can rely on to get me from point A to point B.

If I push myself to exhaustion in the pool, to the point where my vision blurs to complete black, at least the lane rope is there to get me home.

There's no lane ropes or lines in the ocean. No matter my work ethic, 100 per cent effort will never be reached in the ocean. I've lost my guide.

My trusted black line and I will be reunited on Tuesday next week. It's been a long eight weeks. I miss the smell of chlorine that masks the door of a good workout.

The future may be blurred like my vision but I trust that once this scratch on my DVD is skipped over, the ending to my swimming film makes the long pause worth the wait.

* Braedan Jason, 22, represented Australia at the Rio Paralympics in 2016 and has been on every Australian swim team since 2015.