Gabi Albiero Building Off ‘Best Experience of my Life’; Proving She Belongs Among Nation’s Elite

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Gabi Albiero got up on the blocks with her Team USA cap on, ready to dive in.

As she glanced over at the next lane, she saw Australian Olympic gold medalist Emma McKeon stare toward the water.

It was both an intimidating and validating moment for Albiero at the 2022 Duel in the Pool. She was going up against one of the world’s elite swimmers – but had earned the right to do so.

“Duel in the Pool was the best experience of my life,” Gabi Albiero told Swimming World. “It was so much fun to be in Australia and getting to know these people I have been racing and make a real friendships. I was on the relay going against Emma McKeon. But that was fun and she was so nice. She is one of the best in the world. To be in the same pool as her and learn from her race was really eye-opening. It made me hungry for more experiences like that.”

It also made the University of Louisville junior realize she is now one of the U.S. elite swimmers.

“When I found out I made the team I was so excited, almost in shock. But that voice in the back of your head was like, did you really deserve to be in this group,” she said. “But being able to compete solidified that I was supposed to be there. I keep that in the back of my mind that I belong and I don’t need to prove it.”

Just a few weeks later, Albiero was back among the world’s elite, competing at the 2022 FINA World Cup in Indianapolis, where many of the world’s best were competing.

“That was my first short-course meters competition ever,” she said. “I really didn’t have expectations which was both freeing but also terrifying. I didn’t know anything but to go out and race. Just to be next to some of these girls that I have watched swim in the Olympics was so cool. Also to realize they are just people like me. It definitely brings down that fear a little bit. I got to watch Beata Nelson win that crown, that was super cool. We became pretty good friends form our trip to Australia. But it was a tough first semester doing so many meets back to back. Coaches thought going to the World Cup was going to be a big thing for me. They encouraged me to go and it was a really big step in my career. It is always a good experience to see what you do in those moments.”


Gabi Albiero. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

She is hoping to replicated that at the NCAA Championships in March.

Last season, Albiero finished ninth in the 50 freestyle (21.69), fifth in the 100 free (47.32), eighth in the 200 medley relay with an anchor leg of 21.15, fifth in the 200 free relay splitting 21.74. Her 400 medley relay team touched 11th (50.53 split) and helped Louisville to a sixth place in the 400 free relay with a leadoff leg of 47.57. The team finished sixth overall.

“NCAAs was so much fun. That was a meet I won’t ever forget. I didn’t have a lot of expectations because my freshman year didn’t go as planned having COVID in January. I wasn’t prepared for that and didn’t swim well. That freed me up to just swim last year without expectations. We were seeded 13th and ended up in the top six,” Albiero said. “Our place was never our focus and that is what allowed us to be that high. It was just a blast.”

She is hoping to continue that momentum into this meet.

“I definitely feel way more prepared going into NCAAs this year. I know a little more about how to handle the pressure. There were a lot of distractions last year and we had to put on extreme blockers. That was a good experience because we learned how to block things out and focus on one thing. That will help me prepared,” she said. “We were excited, but we are not satisfied. We are going in with hungry eyes.”

Albiero credits an upstart freshmen class for giving the Cardinals an extra spark this season.

“This season has been so much fun. This is by far the best chemistry we have had on the team. Happy swimmers are fast swimmers and that is what we are seeing. Everyone is excited to go to practice and the freshmen have brought a spunk to the team that I didn’t know we were really needing,” she said. “We are just trying to carry that momentum from each race.”

Part of what has made Albiero so successful in the water is that ability to absorb lessons and experience from every situation, whether that be an intimidating race, a great training trip or being there for a teammate.

That ability is something that she has learned from her swimming family. Yes, her teammates, but specifically her brother Nicolas Albiero, an NCAA champion, and her father, Arthur Albiero, Louisville’s coach.

“It is definitely a unique situation. The ones who get it get it and the ones who don’t, don’t.  As the youngest, I got to learn from both of my brothers as coaches kids. I got to learn what they would have done differently,” Gabi Albiero said. “There definitely is a little bit of pressure to fill Nick’s shoes. But we have different events and different roles and they are completely separate.  He is my best friend in the whole world. I love learning from him. To see how he has come back and really to give his all has been so amazing.”

While having that much family around that much of the time has its tough times, the good by far outweighs the struggles.

“To have my dad on the deck with me is not something everyone gets to experience. When COVID kept no fans there or anything, I still had my dad there,” she said. “He is just a goofball. We have a lot of fun. He always comes in with some new quote to share with someone. He is so fun and you don’t always see that with — (as she paused to laugh) — old men coaches.”

But having family on deck is something Albiero has been used to for many years, growing up in a swimming family. It has helped her find a balance with her father, especially.

“Our relationship is more important than my swimming career. We do a really good job separating coach and swimming vs. father-daughter. But there is a thin line and there are times where I slip up. But we have managed well,” Gabi Albiero said. “The three of us has always been so close growing up, closer than most families I know. My dad is from Brazil and has a different experience. The culture is so loving with passion and compassion for people. It is so special.”

So, Albiero has the family pedigree and passion, the knowledge that she belongs among the nation’s elite – and the experiences to back that up. Those are some pretty huge factors that are pointing her in a strong direction.

But she isn’t focused on any specific goals.

“I am not a huge numbers or places goal-setter, because I think that puts the emphasis on the wrong thing for me. But I want to get to the A final in all three of my events and have some time improvement,” Gabi Albiero said. “Summer before 2016 I was right off of the trials cut and we ended up time trialing an dI tried 11 times in the month of June and I missed it by .02 like four or five times. Since then I never make specific time goals. It took the love out of it for me.”

So no specific goals for the short term, other than making the A final. But she does have some ongoing goals.

“I know long term I want to go 49 in my 100 fly (50.84). If that is this year, great.  Outside of the water, I have just been trying to be a better teammate. I was nominated captain and try to soak up that role for the underclassmen,” she said. “It is such a special honor. To be an example and a role model is really special.

“My future is definitely something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have some more time collegiately, but it is quickly coming to an end. But if COVID taught us anything it is to be prepared for anything. I can see myself going a few more years. I definitely want to represent the U.S. again – I know there will be some opportunities.”


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Norman Schippert
Norman Schippert
1 year ago

We are all very proud of you Gabi, keep up the good work. Louisville loves you!

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