KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Michael Andrew won his first heat in the men's 100M breaststroke in the Tokyo Olympics.
Andrew, who once trained in Lawrence, won heat 5 with a time of 58.62.
James Wilby of Great Britain finished in second with a time of 58.99.
Andrew will be in the pool again tonight competing in the 100M breaststroke semifinals, and if he qualifies, will compete in the finals tomorrow night.
Michael Andrew will compete in three events in his first Olympics.
We talked to Andrew after he arrived in Japan for the games. He said the 200 meter IM is the race where he feels the most pressure.
“You look at the 50 and 100 breast, it’s like I’m going up against guys that are, I feel like people think they’re unbeatable so it gives me a lot of freedom just to race,” he said .”But in the 200 IM, I’m that guy and they’re chasing me.”
What surprised Andrew the most when he got to Tokyo was not about swimming, he said. He made national headlines recently after talking about not getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Olympic athletes are not required to be vaccinated. Andrew talked about some of the reasons he says he chose not to get the shot including already having COVID-19 last year as well as being young and healthy and not wanting to take a COVID-19 vaccine close to the Olympics.
“I’m just grateful that we have the freedom as an American to make those type of decisions,” he said. “I just didn’t want to risk putting an experimental drug, especially not even being approved by the FDA in my body this close to the games because I didn’t know how my body would react to the vaccine.”
The FDA has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. While the FDA has not yet given them full approval, the CDC calls the vaccines “safe and effective” under the most “intense safety monitoring in U.S. history”.
Governors, including Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, have shared hopes that full FDA approval could mean more people get the vaccine.
This week on CNN, President Biden said a COVID-19 vaccine could receive full approval as early as the end of August.
Meanwhile, Kansas City area health leaders say not only are our COVID-19 cases rising but that the average age of hospitalized patients has dropped to 34.
“It is definitely hitting a younger age group and that is the group that is unvaccinated,” said Frank Thompson, deputy director of the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department.
“This is a different take on coronavirus,” said Dr. Steven Stites, Chief Medical Officer University of Kansas Health System. “This is not only a disease of the elderly and infirm. This is also a disease of the young and healthy.”
This week, Stites also said immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection would not protect you against the Delta variant which is now dominant in our region.
While Andrew is not vaccinated, he is not alone. Friday, Team USA’s top doctor revealed about 83% of US athletes are vaccinated which leaves about 100 of the more than 600 athletes in the United States delegation unvaccinated.