SUPERIOR, Wis. — If the old saying that “bad things come in threes” is true, Amy Flessert is due for some good fortune any day now.
The Twin Ports area competitive swimmer and triathlete is one among many that has seen her world turned upside down by the global coronavirus pandemic in the past few weeks. And just in the last few days she learned that injury has been added to an impressive one-two insult punch.
“I broke my leg yesterday. Turns out it’s a stress fracture from running,” said Flessert, 35, on Tuesday. “So if I would’ve done my half (marathon), had it not been cancelled, God only knows what would’ve happened. I’m in a boot and crutches for about six weeks.”
Typical of one who enjoys triathlons — which involve swimming, biking and distance running — Flessert had a packed spring and summer of events planned. There was a half marathon in the Twin Cities on March 14, and a 10-mile run there on April 5. The latter was the same weekend as the Minnesota Masters Swim Meet, scheduled for April 4-5. Those would have effectively served as warm-ups for a June 14 half marathon, two days before Flessert would’ve flown to South America for the Pan American Masters Swimming Championships, scheduled for Medellin, Columbia. Within a matter of days, most of it was cancelled in efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Flessert was a competitive high school swimmer in Phillips, Wis., and joined the Nort’landers Swim Club, where she still competes today. She joined masters in 2011 and has literally seen the world, traveling to national competitions in Texas, Oregon and Minneapolis, and to international meets in Canada, Hungary and South Korea. The now-canceled Columbia trip was next on the agenda. Working both as a direct support professional and in retail during her spare time, Flessert has self-financed much of her travel.
“I work weekends at Bath & Body Works so I pay for most of it myself,” she said. “I do get some in-kind donations from people I consider family and friends, of various amounts.”
In another stroke of misfortune, Flessert suddenly has more time to rest and recover from the leg injury, with both of her jobs shut down for the time being. Plan A for replacement work was to apply at a grocery store or other essential business, but the injury puts that idea on hold for now.
“Considering I recently broke my leg, it did make things more complicated. I was going to apply for temporary work, but now with a broken leg it’s out of the question,” said Flessert, who has more than five years’ experience in retail. “I am getting paid from both jobs throughout this week. Anything beyond this week, I will have to file for unemployment.”
Like so many others, she waits. The coronavirus has not directly affected her health, but she has become one of the countless secondary victims of this pandemic, with a life and a career disrupted. The planned competitions will not happen. There is no work, for now. And like most swimmers in this region who look out at ice-covered lakes and dream of open water, Flessert waits for a chance to compete, and to work, again when she is healthy.
“It’s very frustrating not to have a pool. I’m a seasoned triathlete, so I cannot run for a while,” she admitted. “I was told I also can’t swim, but I’m hoping that eventually I’ll be able to swim sooner than I can run.”