SAN DIEGO — More than 6,700 athletes will compete across 39 sports at the upcoming Pan-American games held in Lima, Peru. Two local swimmers, Kendyl Stewart and Ali Deloof, will represent San Diego and the United States.
Twice a day, six days a week, professional swimmers Stewart and Deloof train in the pool with Team Elite.
“It’s all professional athletes,” said Delook. “We’re all doing the same thing training for meets this summer and then the ultimate goal being Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
But come August, these swimmers will get a small taste of Olympic competition when they travel to Peru to compete at the Pan-American games.
“There’s going to be an athlete village and they’ll be other sports competing so that kind of puts a different spin on it,” said Stewart. “That is a little unique and exciting and just being there with a ton of Americans, not just the USA swimmers is going to be cool, kind of a fun lead up to next year.”
Stewart graduated from La Costa Canyon High School before becoming a two-time national swim champion at University of Southern California. The 24-year-old year-old swims the 100 meter butterfly, an event she hopes to do well in.
“I’ve been training hard this year and saw some improvements last year that were long overdue so I’m hoping to kind of put an exclamation point on my training this year and finish off with best time is all I can ask,” said Stewart.
Deloof swam at Michigan and specializes in the 100-meter backstroke and both the 50 and 100 meter freestyle. At 25 years old, she’s a four-time world champion medalist looking forward to her most challenging event yet.
“I just want to have fun and stay relaxed but also hit best times,” said Deloof. “I haven’t hit best times in awhile but I’m just super excited to make new friends and compete. Competing for the U.S. is always an honor.”
While they won’t get the chance to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in this event, both women say the experience is priceless.
“I’m getting antsy, I just want to be there, I just want to race, I’m getting a little nervous,” said Deloof. “So definitely trying to control those nerves and just know that I put in all the work and everything is going to happen when it happens.”
“I feel lucky to have earned an education and an opportunity to travel the world and see a lot of places, meet a lot of exceptional people that I otherwise wouldn’t have without swimming,” said Stewart.
Team USA kicks off competition August 6.