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Columbian Women Seek Olympian Gold Train in FL Keys

Columbian Women Train For Olympics in FLA Keys Public Pool

ISLAMORADA, FL, USA, May 10, 2021 / -- Columbian Women Train for Olympics in FL Keys

Before taking the kids to Islamorada’s public pool we had never seen artistic swimming, known to some as synchronized swimming. We stumbled upon two women in special swim wear who levitated from the water with arms, back, chest and waist in the air, quickly submerging only to reappear in synchronized dance, like two sea creatures that live their life in water.

Feeling like trespassers intruding on something forbidden to spectators, we were riveted by the graceful talent of these two young women. “Water walkers,” my 8 year-old son called them. They had traveled from Colombia to the Florida Keys to perfect their art because the pools in Columbia closed due to COVID-19. Their intent: a Gold Medal in the duet for artistic swimming at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. To be the best in the world.

“It’s about passion,” echoed the aspiring duet Monica Arango and Stefania Alvarez. Both hail from Medellin, Columbia with instruction from Manager, Paula Garcia, also of Colombia, and Choreographer Marga Crespi, a Bronze medalist in artistic swimming representing Spain in the 2012 Olympics.

“Everything is uncertain because of Covid,” said Crespi. “Monica and Stefania are national champions. They are strong finishers in World competitions. They are famous in Colombia. Crowds of people cheer when they return to their country.” Covid closed pools in Colombia for six months and training sites remain hard to find.

“We need to keep our heads down moving forward,” said Arango. “It’s not about fame. It’s about being as good as I can be for me, family and friends and the girls of Colombia. I want to send a message that you should do what you love, press through hardship and strive to be the best.”

“We must be resilient,” she said.

We watch Arango and Alvarez train. It is ballet in water without missing a musical beat. It is swimming, dancing and gymnastics with a foundation of physical endurance, flexibility, grace and sheer strength. They hold their breath for an excruciatingly long time defying the Heavens and then rising like sleek and beautiful aquatic life. “We live a mile above sea level in Colombia,” said Arango. “Our lungs are strong.”

Their competition is two-fold. They have a technical routine with compulsory elements done to music with nine routines each lasting 10 seconds. They also have a free-style routine performed to music with freedom of movement.

“So all we can do is train where we find a pool and hope the show goes on,” says Alvarez. “Our message is to chase your passion. By keeping your physical and emotional well-being strong, you can do anything, whether you are a young boy or girl struggling with poverty or living your quest for the Olympic dream.”

“They gave up everything for the Olympics,” said trainer Garcia. “Stefania and Monica put their careers in economics and psychology on hold. They left families and country to train. Covid is always present. We have to be so careful.”

“In Colombia, the choices are bad,” said Alvarez. “They can shut everything down because of Covid and people starve and even die of hunger. Or, if they open everything up, the economy moves but the risk of Covid spirals upward. Our relatives have had it.”

“The government tried to stop it by shutting everything down,” said Arango. “They gave everyone $300 a month to live on. Then, rather than having people starve, they opened up.”

Sitting on the coral sand beach overlooking the Everglades, the stress of schedules gave way to friendly and frank discussion with this foursome who I will likely never see again except for rooting them on in the Olympiad.

Theirs is a real life tale of passion, immense talent and resilience in the face of the largest pandemic in over a century. They want to share their experience and encourage young Colombians to think and dream big while holding values dear and being resilient to change and daunting challenge.

Resilient in and out of the water. My hopes rest with them to be the best in the world doing what they love.

Tim Ervin
Tim Ervin Associates
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