ArticlesJun 01 2011
- Written by Sharon Robb
High School: Grandview Prep
At a young age, Gianpaolo Barelli got the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the best swimmers in the world.
His father, Paolo, a two-time Olympian, national record holder and president of the Italian Swimming Federation, took his son to a swim meet in Europe.
"My father introduced me to this beautiful sport," Barelli said.
"I was 6 or 7 when he took me to a meet in Europe and I spent a lot of time with the athletes and coaches for a week. I thought, 'God, I want to swim hard now.
"When I was young at 5 or 6, swimming was just fun for me," said Barelli, who also played soccer. "But by 10, I was swimming seriously."
Like SOFLO and Grandview Prep teammate Valerio Rasi, Barelli came to South Florida to train with six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg and train at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.
"Unfortunately, I lost Michael…everyone lost Michael too soon," Barelli said. "But I learned a lot from Michael and the team. I am a better swimmer."
Barelli plans to return to Italy to complete his 13th year of school and get his high school degree in Rome. He hopes to return to the U.S. to train and attend "a good university."
Barelli picked up valuable experience at both the high school and club level, he said.
"I am happy, it worked out well," Barelli said. "Every day was really different. I learned a lot.
"I came here to learn and improve my stroke in the 100 and 200 freestyle. Here the training is different. In Rome we practice a lot and swim around 8,000. Here we swim less, 6,000 or 7,000, but here dryland training with Coach Dave is very important for what you do in the water."
Barelli is working on getting his junior national cut times. I think my swimming is improving, I see a lot of improvement," he said. "I push myself hard in practice.
"The dream for me is a great dream, to swim in the Olympics. It is the dream of every athlete to go to the Olympics. It's really tough to arrive at the Olympics."
Barelli said swimming has helped him in other aspects of his life.
"I think swimming has shown me the right way to be a good person, a person with value, a person that says I have to work hard to be a better person and have a future," Barelli said.
"It's important to a kid to be a good person and to see where you are going to arrive. It taught me focus for school and time management."
In his high school state meet debut in November, Barelli was tenth in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:43.85 and 11th in the 100-yard freestyle in 47.85.
"I am very proud, this was a new experience for me and I was still getting used to swimming so many races in one day, it was different for me," Barelli said after competing in the state meet. "This was really, really a good meet with really, really good guys. I hadn't seen this much talent in one meet since the Italian Junior Championships.
"I am happy with the way the season finished. It was a great experience. I worked hard on my times. I pushed myself and learned a lot."
Barelli hopes to return to Florida in the future.
"What will I miss the most about Florida? The weather, the sunshine, the Miami Heat and the girls. Why not? But I miss my pasta."