Ella Eastin. Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona
By Dan D’Addona.
It’s tough enough being one of the top swimmers in the country, but Ella Eastin always seems to have some added adversity going into a big meet.
The Stanford national champion has dealt with injuries, heat stroke and other issues before big meets in the past.
Next week’s national championships will be no different. She is entered in most of the butterfly and IM events.
Eastin has mononucleosis, which has threatened her chance to compete at nationals, but hasn’t stopped her.
“I put in a ton of work before this. It won’t come as easy. It is ultimately going to be my decision. I have to take into account the clinical information I received and the doctors. It will be my decision in terms of my short-term and long-term health, if I think my body is ready,” Eastin said. “I have to mentally be in that state to give myself the best opportunity. When the time comes I will have to do with the reality of possibly not swimming, but I have to be in the mindset to compete. It will be interesting to see how my body reacts.”
It hasn’t been easy.
Mononucleosis is a contagious illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. Some cases cause liver inflammation and enlargement of the spleen, making it difficult for athletes to compete for fear of rupturing the spleen.
“It is getting a little bit better, but definitely not 100 percent. Just taking it day by day,” she said. “I felt like I had some flu symptoms. They did a blood test and it came back positive. It happened pretty quick.”
Eastin’s experience with adversity has helped her get through situations like this in the past.
“I know that the rest can definitely help. I am not putting excess strain on my body. That is something I have tried to figure out the past couple of years,” she said. “I am really sensitive to changes in training, so taper has been an experiment my entire career. Something always comes up. Before NCAAs I had the flu. Before long-course meets I have gotten heat stroke. This isn’t really anything new.”
That helps mentally, too.
“The biggest thing for me is making sure that I have long-term perspective on things, not getting caught up in the every day difficulties that come along with being this sick at a critical time of the swim season. I remind myself that it is something I will get over and it sis not a long-term health issues. It is not the end of my swim career, so that is something I have been holding with me. When it comes to my career, nothing has really gone to plan. This is not abnormal for me. I haven’t really been able to train, so all I have done was rest. I was on strict bedrest for a long time. I am kind of getting in the water to maintain my feel, but other than that, I am hoping for the best.”