SPIRE Providing Rare Opportunity for Spanish Swimmers Alicia Angelone Lopez and Carla Clermont

Photo Courtesy: Cyrus Gomez-Alcala via SPIRE

SPIRE Providing Rare Opportunity for Spanish Swimmers Alicia Angelone Lopez and Carla Clermont

Alicia Angelone Lopez and Carla Clermont swam together in Madrid, Spain, and have lived all over the world.

But it was by chance Lopez saw something that brought the duo back together, this time in the United States. Lopez saw a social media post by Caeleb Dressel about the SPIRE Institute & Academy in Geneva, Ohio, and did some research. It was a way for both athletes to study in the U.S. and continue to swim at a high level, while giving her a strong chance of landing on a college swim team in the future.

“Alicia learned about SPIRE from an Instagram post from Caeleb Dressel.  Alicia has swam in several countries due to her father’s work, Italy, United Arab Emirates and Spain, and was looking for a stable program where she could swim, get a good education and find a college in the U.S. that suits her athletic and academic needs,” SPIRE Institute & Academy coach Thad Schultz said. “Alicia is good friends with Carla and when Alicia committed to SPIRE she told Carla about it.”

And just like that, two Spanish swimmers found a home together.

“It all started with the search for a place where I could study in America and at the same time continue swimming at a competitive level,” Clermont said. “Initially I had decided to go to Vancouver, Canada. However Alicia, who at that time was in the same swim team as me back in Spain, told me that she was going to swim at SPIRE. From that moment on I researched about the place and after seeing the incredible facilities I did not hesitate for a second to change my destination to continue my academic studies and training.”

Lopez feels the same way.

“Here at SPIRE I am able to take part in the sport that I am passionate about, but at the same time get my studies where they need to be in order to get in to the top colleges,” Angelone Lopez said. “So far SPIRE with the help of my coaches has been able to improve my strength and endurance with respect to my swimming goals.”

It started for the duo years ago in Spain.

“I first met Carla when she joined the swim team that I was at in Spain, over a year ago. Ever since I have met her, our relationship as friends has grown, since we are both passionate about swimming. We have been able to push each other especially at practice since we are both very competitive and motivated to reach the top levels in swimming,” Angelone Lopez said. “My swimming goals have changed over the past year, as for short term goals I am hoping to be able to some back to Spain and compete at a very high level, and for long term goals I would like to be able to get in the best colleges for swimming and academics.”

It wouldn’t have worked without their enduring friendship.

“Alicia and I are great friends. I met her two years ago when I joined her swim club in Spain. Swimming brought us very close. After all that we have lived together and now that we are enjoying this experience side by side, we could say that we feel like sisters,” Clermont said.

Swimming has been an important part of their lives from a young age.

“I always like to talk about how I started swimming because it is totally different from how I currently feel about the sport to how I felt when I was 6 years old. Sports have always been important in my family and both my brother and I were forced to choose a sport. After trying a variety of sports I chose swimming, however I hated it. It was a very demanding sport and I never felt like going to practice,” Clermont said. “However, I began to grow with the sport and learned to push myself, and as always with effort came good results. I began to have another perspective on swimming, I began to value effort, having a purpose, fulfilling it and feeling satisfied with it. To this day I find swimming as a key part of my daily life, I love to improve every day and surround myself with people who have the same goals and values of effort.”

For Lopez, the journey has already landed her in several countries because of her father’s work.

“My swimming journey has been intriguing, I started to take swim lessons at the age of 4 but it wasn’t a sport that I was interested in. I did many other sports before committing myself to swimming such as gymnastics, soccer, netball, track and field, etc.,” Angelone Lopez said. “It is only till the age 10 where I started to actually enjoy swimming and create goals for myself. I started to place in top three in the breaststroke in Spanish nationals, until I wanted to make more out of my swimming and started to look at schools with great swimming programs in USA. Which brings me back to SPIRE where I am currently at.

“For me swimming means sacrifice and passion, the drive to grow as a swimmer, the focus and mental capacity you develop to become a good swimmer. Swimming has helped me develop as an athlete and person, the sensation swimming gives me when I swim fast or even when you don’t is what keeps me going because it is an unpredictable sport.”

Especially in different countries.

“I have lived in England for three years, Abu Dhabi for 10 years and Spain for three. My favorite memories about Abu Dhabi was the type of environment I was living in, completely different from Europe. Why? Because the culture: the Muslims are kind, generous, friendly and they have their lives driven by religion, they have a sense of family and that was what they were to me. Evidently I have visited so many cool places like the Grand Mosque, the Burj Khalifa, etc.”

The long journey has landed her in Geneva, Ohio, at SPIRE Institute & Academy.

“They are both strong, talented swimmers,” Schultz said. “Alicia is mainly a breaststroker and Carla is a sprint freestyler.  One of the challenges they had at home was lack of opportunities to swim other events and, fortunately, they can do that here.  Of their many talents are Alicia’s tenacity and Carla has one of the best front-end catches of any swimmer I have ever seen.”

Clermont has been impressed with her progress at SPIRE Institute & Academy.

“I have come here to SPIRE to be able to push myself to the maximum in what I like to do the most, swimming, with the goal of becoming the best swimmer I can be, and that this will lead me one day to represent my country in the Spanish national team. Both the facilities at SPIRE and my coach, Thad Schultz, are incredible. Since I have been here I have improved a lot in terms of swimming technique.” Clermont said. “Swimming is a key part of my day to day life. It is a sport that has given me a lot of different values and friendships throughout my life, a sport that continues to teach me every day. Much of who I am is thanks to swimming, valuing the effort it takes to achieve what you want to achieve, focus on your goals and meet them and give the best version of yourself are several of the things that swimming brings me constantly.”

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