Opinion: US swimmer Michael Andrew’s decision not to be vaccinated is selfish, unfair to teammates

American Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew could not be bothered to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Katie Ledecky could and did. Simone Manuel did the same. About 90 percent of the U.S. national swimming team did so, according to an June estimate.

But not Michael Andrew. He said he did not want to interfere in his training, assuming it could make him miss a few days of practice. You know, side effects and everything.

The vaccine probably influenced the training of Olympic gold medalists Ledecky and Manuel, but they went ahead and made the plans, happily doing their part not only to keep themselves safe, but also for those around them, including future Olympic swimming classmates.

But Andrew? The 22-year-old, who said he was infected with COVID months ago, decided he did not need to do so. Speaking on the YouTube swimming series “Inside with Brett Hawke” in January, Andrew explained his decision this way:

“So my pattern of thinking is like, if I already have it, there is not so much danger to my health.”

He also spoke about his family’s views on the virus that has killed more than 600,000 Americans.

“We are a bit, I would not say a family of conspiracy theorists, but we are definitely on the side where we are looking for what other methods there are. The same with the way we train. Just because everyone is heading in one direction, why should we follow that direction? “

Now is not a good question. It really is such a question for Michael Andrew. Coached by his father in a backyard pool, Andrew became a professional at the age of 14 and always approached training for his sport in an unorthodox way. Well, for sure, when everyone goes swimming one way, go ahead and go another way. And when a life-saving vaccine becomes available, stay away from it, because it seems like the nice thing to do.

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But then you qualify for the Olympics in the midst of a pandemic and do you know what that mock vaccine means? Freedom. It is your security blanket, the card without prison.

With this, you could successfully track contacts at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Without it, if there is a COVID outbreak or tremor in the pool, or in the Athlete Village and you are in the neighborhood, there is no safety net for you.

You could track contact directly from one or more of your Olympic events and thus give your teammates extra control over who should eat, sleep and train near an unvaccinated dude.

At last month’s Olympic swimming trials, I asked Lindsay Mintenko, chief executive of the U.S. National Team, about contact detection rules and the vaccine in Tokyo.

“Now they are taking into account the vaccination situation,” he said. “They will not automatically exclude you if you find contact at this point (and you have been vaccinated.) This was good news for us. I have a lot of worries in the coming weeks. The health and safety of our athletes is always our first priority. It takes on a whole new meaning this year.

“The virus is still here. They are out there and we enter an environment where we have no idea what the other population did to protect themselves. This makes me nervous. We will do a lot to protect ourselves. But I’m nervous about what we’re going to go through. “

It turns out that Team USA worries start when everyone enters the team meeting.

If Andrew is worried about that, he did not show it on Thursday.

“I am not vaccinated,” he said in response to a question I asked him. “My reason behind this is, for the first time, it was a last minute, I did not want to put anything in my body that I did not know how to react.

“As an athlete at the elite level, everything you do is very calculated and understandable. For me, in the training cycle, especially before the tests, I did not want to risk one day. There have been times when you get a vaccine, you have to deal with it for a few days.

He was proud as he spoke, proud of his selfish, foolish ways. Proud to be an obstacle to his teammates, a concern for everyone. Proud to do whatever it is, no matter how it affects anyone else.

But because he comes to the Olympics without protection, a duck for COVID, the lone swimming wolf desperately needs something he never needed before his athletic community.

Others. He needs other people.

Isn’t he lucky that his teammates chose to do what he would not do and get vaccinated? Can you imagine a couple of Michael Andrews running around Tokyo, waiting for COVID to catch them so they can get a good chunk of the US Olympic team?

Andrew is lucky to be surrounded by a cocoon of smart, nice teammates who will probably keep him safe. To realize his Olympic dream, he must swim fast and then rely on them to keep him out of danger.

Because he failed to do the one thing a good teammate should and should do, the guy who has done it alone all his life now desperately needs everyone’s help.

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