Tokyo Olympics

Peninsula Man Opened Up Backyard Pool for Olympic Athletes During Pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

When the pandemic shut down pools across the country, Olympic training came to a halt.

Tod Spieker said that’s when his neighbor in Atherton -- a former Stanford swimming coach -- gave him a call.

“He said, ‘Tod, we’d like to know if we can use your pool.’ I said, ‘Who is it?’ he said, “‘Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel,’” said Spieker. “I said, ‘Have them get ahold of me,’ which they did. I said, ‘Have at it!’”

Ledecky and Manuel, Stanford and Olympic swimmers, took him up on the offer training in his backyard for three months with their coach. 

“We were hearing stories about people training and it was horrible,” said Spiekr. “This just fit the bill.” 

Spieker was an all-american swimmer at UCLA, where the aquatics center is named after him. 

So his 25-yard pool is built for the real thing with special gutters and timers.

“Basically these are two competition lanes,” he said. 

While he was mostly gone during the training, his daughter and grandkids were often bonding with the two women.

“Having them here was such an honor,” said Lindy Hopman. “It was so fascinating watching them, and seeing how fast they are in real life.” 

So when they gather around on nights like Tuesday night, when Ledecky won gold in the 1500m, it’s a special feeling knowing they played a role in helping Team USA.

“It sure adds a huge extra interest level when you knew they trained right here in a little backyard pool,” said Spieker. 

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