Introducing the swimmer on whom Portugal’s Olympic hopes rest

in News · 05-06-2010 00:00:00 · 0 Comments
Introducing the swimmer on whom Portugal’s Olympic hopes rest

He currently holds two national records for 50m and 100m freestyle swimming and is one of Portugal’s hopefuls for the 2012 London Olympics, being trained under the Olympic Committee fund. Half Portuguese and half French, Alexandre Agostinho’s path to his current status as Portugal’s best freestyle speed swimmer has not been plain sailing.

Having started his swimming career at the tender age of four, Alexandre Agostinho was neither the best nor the most talented athlete amongst his colleagues, but hard work and dedication over the years have transformed him into the reference point of Portugal’s sprint swimming and the nation’s hope for the 2012 London Olympics.
Alexandre began competing as an athlete for Portinado, Portimão’s swimming school, at eight years of age and said had it not been for his parents’ support he would not be where he is right now. Speaking to The Portugal News, Alexandre, born in France but living his entire life in Portugal, said “My parents have always been there for me in sport, whilst also wanting me to concentrate on my academic life”, delighting them when he completed his degree in Physiotherapy in 2009. “A great part of an athlete’s success comes from their parents’ support, as it is they who tirelessly take you to training, to events, and keep on believing in you” said the national champion in both the 50 and 100 metres races.
Despite being an athlete for Portinado at such a young age, Agostinho only began competing in national competitions when he was fifteen, in 2001, when all his efforts began showing some results. “When I was younger I was never the best, but my progression started when I entered the Junior category and started competing nationally” he said, adding, “My first international competition was in the 2004 Junior Europeans, which didn’t go too well and I ended among the last places, in 29th or 30th.”
It was in 2008 that Alexandre’s first glimpse as an Olympic hopeful appeared. Although his European Championships in Eindhoven didn’t go smoothly he was left with one last chance to make the minimum times for the Beijing Olympics at the 2008 Mare Nostrum Circuit. It was one of the most testing times for him as he missed out on the minimum time by 0.2 seconds, which left him extremely upset at the time. In retrospect though, Alexandre Agostinho is happy with the way things turned out as “I wasn’t prepared at the time to enter the Olympics; I needed at least one more year’s training.”
Despite becoming national champion for the first time in 2006, Agostinho felt that his progression as an athlete took its biggest leap after his disappointment at not qualifying for the Olympics, when he broke his first national record in the December 2008 nationals.
Since then, he has successively broken his own records and his gruelling training regime is pushing him further up the ladder in worldwide swimming, currently ranked in the top 25. He trains six days a week, five hours a day, which is split into morning and evening training, with a couple of hours of gym in between. He also travels to training camps on a regular basis, having recently spent time in Sierra Nevada and Tenerife, in Spain carrying out intense training with the Portuguese national squad.
He is now focussing all his attention on the Budapest European competitions, which take place in August, needing to make minimum times to participate in next year’s World Championships. This will be his chance to make the London Olympics’ minimum times. “I am currently well below the Beijing minimums and when the time comes I am confident I will make the London Olympics” said Alexandre, who dreams of Olympic success in 2012, “My dream for the Olympics is to make the finals, a medal would be absolutely amazing but I don’t want to set the bar too high.”
The sprint swimmer has some hurdles no other athlete in the world’s elite has to endure, which is swimming in a 25 metre pool. “Training in a 25 metre pool is my biggest handicap; I am the only athlete in the world’s top 25 that trains in a 25 metre pool on a regular basis.”
Although Portimão has announced the construction of an Olympic size pool, Agostinho is not sure it will be completed in time for his competitive career “I hope I am still competing when Portimão’s 50 metre pool opens, but it doesn’t look like it will be happening”, as the project has been delayed somewhat. However, this does not deter him “I will keep competing whilst I enjoy swimming, get good times and while my health allows me to compete.”
Alexandre Agostinho currently holds the national records for 50 metres freestyle (21.64 seconds in a 25 metre pool and 22.36 in a 50 metre pool), and 100 metres freestyle (47.64 seconds in a 25 metre and 49.50 in a 50 metre pool).
Tommy Broad


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