World Record Swim Prior to Tokyo – What’s Next For Gia Pergolini?

Photo Courtesy: Gia Pergolini via Instagram @gia.pergolini

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The postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games brings a lot of uncertainty for the athletes. While most swimmers have been left without a way to train, many are finding creative ways to continue to work. While the world has stopped, many are prepared to chase their lifelong dreams. The Olympic/Paralympic dream waits for no one.

Record-Breaking Performance

Gia Pergolini, a 16-year-old US Para Swimmer, is one of those athletes who is clearly not wasting any time. At a recent US Open meet in Huntsville, Alabama, Pergolini swam a 1:05.51 in the S13 100 backstroke and a 2:25.16 in the 200 backstroke- both under world record time.

Although the records will not be ratified because the US Open Meet had been previously approved by World Para Swimming, Pergolini’s swims are promising. Her 100 backstroke long course time is almost a full second under the previously held record in her Para Swimming classification. Pergolini was diagnosed in 2014 with Stargardt’s disease which causes a progressive central vision loss during childhood or adolescence. Learn more about how visually impaired athletes adapt here.

Training Troubles

At the beginning of the pandemic, Pergolini’s team Dynamo Swim Club shut down. She was unable to practice. With her hope to compete in Tokyo as a first-time Paralympian, she continued to exercise with a personal trainer until she could return to swimming. Pergolini is not swimming as much as she did last year. She still, however, makes an effort to attend practice every day to make her Paralympic dream a reality.

Because of the training time lost, Pergolini was unsure that she would be able to break the records. She says of her mental progression, “As the races approached, however, I became more and more confident. By the time I got behind the block, I knew I could do it.”

High Hopes For Tokyo

Gia spoke exclusively to Swimming World about the perspective her World Record swim gave her on the journey to Tokyo 2021:

“As a first-time para swimmer, the thought of Tokyo has been very nerve-racking for a long time. When it was postponed, I was sad but relieved because it gave me an extra year to prepare myself, mentally and physically. After breaking the world record I feel much more confident in my abilities than I have in the last 3 years. My swim coach Nick has been a powerful motivator for me at practices and meets, and I know that I am going to be stronger and faster than ever in Tokyo this summer. I can’t wait.”

The Paralympic dream waits for no one, so neither does Pergolini.

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Tammy Braner
2 years ago

What an amazing woman . Strong, smart, determined, hardworking and kind. Gia you continue to amaze me. Exciting times ahead of you and no double will be great . Looking forward to the new chapter. YOU GO GIRL!!!