Kelsey Wog had to put off her first trip to the Olympics when the Tokyo Summer Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year.
But the 2020 competitive swimming season won't be a complete bust.
The 22-year-old Winnipegger will still be able to test herself against the world's top swimmers in the International Swimming League, a pro circuit formed last year.
On Wednesday, the ISL announced it had chosen to host its entire 2020 season in one location with a condensed five-week schedule, beginning Oct. 16 in Budapest, Hungary.
The event, to be held at the Duna Arena, is being touted as the only major swimming competition to feature the world's top athletes.
In 2019, Wog raced for the San Francisco-based Cali Condors, who finished third overall in the ISL.
Wog finished second in the 200-metre breaststroke (2:18.06) at the ISL Grande Finale. After competing in the 200-metre individual medley and 200-metre breaststroke events, Wog signed on with the expansion Toronto Titans.
"The ISL will for sure look different this year compared to last year," Wog said in a statement. "It was super fun and such a great experience racing with the best in the world more frequently than just once a year at the world championships or Olympics.
"I’m really looking forward to racing again, but the health and safety of all is obviously top priority."
Wog plans to compete for the entire five-week period while also keeping up with her agricultural and food science studies at the U of M.
Her Toronto teammates include Canadian stars such as Kylie Masse, Emily Overholt and Penny Oleksiak and Russians Anastasia Fesikova, Sergey Fesikov and world-record holder Anton Chupkov.
Swedish butterfly ace Louise Hansson is also on the roster.
"It was super fun and such a great experience racing with the best in the world more frequently than just once a year at the world championships or Olympics." – Kelsey Wog
"It’s super exciting the Toronto team has been added," she said. "It’s cool we have a Canadian team with so many Canadians."
Swimming Canada issued a statement about competing in a non-sanctioned event such as the ISL after conducting a conference call with the 18 Canadians scheduled to participate.
The call was intended as an information session, reminding swimmers that: Budapest is a general risk area due to the pandemic; the federal government has advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel since March 13 and that travellers must quarantine upon returning to Canada; and Swimming Canada has decided not to travel internationally for camps or competitions through at least the end of 2020.
"We are not mandating anything on if Canadians should or should not participate in the ISL, or prevent them from attending," said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi in a statement. "Our goal in the current situation, as always, is to provide them with the best information available."
Wog has been on a roll in 2020.
Her record-setting season included four gold medals at the U Sports championships (50-metre, 100-metre, 200-metre breaststroke and 200-metre individual medley).
The 200-metre breaststroke and 200-metre IM titles were secured in record-setting fashion and, for a time, the 200 breaststroke time of 2:22.42 was the fastest in the world in 2020.
These performances resulted in Wog being named the U Sports female swimmer of the year.
In June, she bested three other star female athletes to earn a Lieutenant Governor Athletic Award as the U Sports female athlete of the year.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.