Australian Madi Wilson posted a 2022 year recap on Instagram a few days ago. Wilson had quite the year and overcame challenges, including getting COVID-19 four times, but still set five World Records in the calendar year.
“9 countries, 4 bouts of Covid, 14 international medals, 5 world records, starting a business and all in 1 year. 2022 you were more than I could’ve ever asked. Let’s see what we can fit into the last few days!”
Wilson told SwimSwam that she battled back and stayed motivated as “each time I had it (COVID-19), it was slightly better. I slowly proved to myself through training and through racing and different things that it was going to be ok. You definitely get inside your head each time and start to wonder if it’s going to be long COVID or if it’s going to affect your lungs or if it’s going to affect your racing.”
Wilson spoke of her most challenging time with COVID-19 as that was right before the LCM World Championships, the second time she had it, saying “it definitely affected my aerobic capacity and my breathing and that was definitely hard because that was just at the pre-camp before Worlds. I definitely struggled a lot then mentally to overcome that.”
Helping her motivation was “The thrill of racing and the thrill of doing what I love to do got me behind the blocks. Once I was behind the blocks and racing, I probably didn’t swim as well as I wanted to at worlds and kind of struggled a bit off of that, but just doing it and doing it for my country and doing what I love to do was enough motivation to keep pushing through and then slowly your lung capacity comes back and everything returns to normal.”
Despite this challenge, Wilson was a member of the Australian mixed 4×100 freestyle relay that set a World Record at LCM Worlds. She also competed in the individual 200 LCM freestyle, swimming a 1:56.85 in finals to finish fifth. She was second after both her prelims and semi-final swims. Her best time in the event is a 1:55.68 which she swam back in June 2021.
Each time after having it after LCM Worlds she said it became “easier to have it and overcome it. The last two times I didn’t really have any symptoms except being really tired.”
The biggest thing that came from the experience was that “the mind is so much stronger than the body. If you can convince your mind to do something, the body will follow. That is something I learned through COVID is to have a strong mind and to know my body will do what I tell it to and is unbelievable. That is something I learned too is how incredible the body is.” She also learned that “we might be a sport that is slightly overtrained so it is ok to freshen up a bit and to take a session off here and there if you are sick. That was a huge problem for me before COVID was that I wouldn’t want to miss anything at all.”
She said it felt “incredible to overcome it. We had some incredible successes myself and my team…Every time that something happens, overcoming COVID or injury or something like that, it proves to my mind how strong it needs to be and how strong it can be especially when the body is hurting.”
Five Australian relays that Wilson was on set World Records this year. Wilson was a member of the Women’s LCM 4×200 free relay, SCM 4×100 freestyle relay, SCM 4×200 freestyle relay, LCM 4×100 mixed freestyle relay, and the SCM 4×50 mixed medley relay.
In addition, fellow Australian Mollie O’Callaghan was on all five of those relays as well. Both Wilson and O’Callaghan are currently tied for the most swimming World Records for females. American Caeleb Dressel currently holds the most World Records overall with six.
Making the feat of battling COVID-19 four times and breaking five World Records even more impressive is that not all the records were set at the same meet. Three were set in December at SCM Worlds, one was set in June at the LCM Worlds, and the last was set in July at the Commonwealth Games.
She also swam personal best times this year in the individual 50, 100, and 200 SCM freestyle events. She was third in the 50 and 200 SCM freestyles at the World Cup in Indianapolis at the beginning of November and was second in the 100 SCM free at Australian Nationals at the end of August. Totaling these World Records and personal bests, Wilson already covers five of the 12 months in a year with continued success, even after continuous challenges of COVID-19.
Wilson also battled COVID-19 back in October 2021, with a confirmed diagnosis right before the World Cup in Berlin. She was hospitalized and four days after being discharged, she swam a SCM personal best in the 50 free.