Former Central swimming standout still weighing options for Olympic trials


WCIA — Payton Woods has a tough choice to make.

The former Central swimming standout is trying to balance staying in the pool and continuing to train for the Olympic Trials, or start a career in marketing. The recent Michigan State grad is working at an internship this summer for a company out of Columbus, Ohio, and if everything goes well, he’s hoping to land a job. That could make training for the postponed Trials tougher though. Finding out he wouldn’t get the chance to compete this summer to try and make Team USA and earn a trip to Tokyo was tough to swallow.

“When it actually came out that it was canceled it was like, ‘Ohh, we’ll what do I do now?'” Woods said during a FaceTime call this week. “Swimming has basically been my life for the last eight years, since my freshman year of high school. And going from that very set schedule to not knowing when or if I’m going to swim again was definitely an adjustment.”

Woods hasn’t been in the pool in months after the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March. He qualified for the United States Trials back in 2018 and has been building up to this summer mentally and physically since. COVID-19 postponed the 2020 Tokyo Games until next year, meaning the Trials won’t happen until then either. Not swimming has forced Woods to train other ways. He started running again, to go along with several other non-traditional swimming workouts.

Woods wrapped up a successful college career at Michigan State this year. He holds several school records, including the 50-freestyle mark he set as a freshman, then re-broke his record three times. Now his future plans are in question, but Woods is optimistic it will work out, whether that’s in the pool or out of it.

“Having my teammates talk me thru everything and figuring out a plan for next summer definitely eased my mind,” he said.

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