Italy's 19-year-old swimming champion, Cecilia Camellini will be using all
the hours in the day to study for her final school exams and train in the
run up to next month's IPC Swimming European Championships in Berlin,
The swimmer shot to fame in 2008 by taking silver in her 50m and 100m
Freestyle events at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics when she was just 16 years
old. She holds the S11 World records in the 100m Freestyle and 100m
As a qualifying event for the London 2012 Paralympics, the European
Championships in Berlin are a key competition for her.
"It's an important step toward London 2012, and it will reveal my training
and form, but I'm trying not to think about the pressure of the
competition," Camellini said.
Added to the pressure of competition, she's had the difficult task of
combining study with training. Her schedule is non-stop. In the morning she
goes to school, trains in the afternoon and uses her remaining free time in
the evening to study.
"It's impossible for me to devote the same energy to both school and
training. Each year, I have to decide, which one is more important. This
year I finish high school and in view of my final exams, studying is my
first priority. But in 2012, I'll be totally free to think about swimming,"
Camellini's favoured event at the European Championships will be the 400m
freestyle. Although she hold's the World record for the short course,
Germany's Daniela Schulte holds the long coursed record, and the two will go
head-to-head in Berlin.
"Daniela is without doubt one of the best athletes in the world, and I've
always admired her. I don't deny that she is my rival, and, considering her
speed, I'm always very excited to compete against her.
"I'm not a psychic who can see into the future, so we'll have to see what
happens in July. I hope the best person wins," she said, adding that she
hoped she would improve her own performance at the event.
Camellini will be up against Schulte in all her races, but she says everyone
is a rival in the pool.
"Everybody who is competing against me is my opponent. It's natural that
there's rivalry in a competition and you shouldn't underestimate anybody or
anything," the swimmer, who has been blind since birth, said.
Camellini began swimming at the age of three in Modena. Growing up, her hero
was Zorro, the Spanish masked hero who defended the poor from tyrannical
officials and other villains.
And perhaps some of the sentiment of the superhero has rubbed off onto
Camellini's own drive:
"Everybody can do sport. There are no limits," she said.
"Swimming is satisfying and fun, but it also involves sacrifice, fatigue and
hard work. I don't think I could find any other sport that gives me the same
sensations of weightlessness and freedom that I find in the water," she
said. "I'll keep swimming as long as swimming gives me these emotions."
Camellini will compete against Schulte in the 100m Backstroke, 100m
Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, 50m Freestyle and 200m Individual Medley at the
IPC Swimming European Championships which will see around 450 swimmers from
37 countries compete.
Other top athletes include Ukraine's Maksim Veraksa, the fastest
Para-swimmer in the world, and Great Britain's Paralympic and World Champion
For further information or to buy tickets for the IPC Swimming European
Championships which takes place from 3-9 July, please visit
www.ecswimming2011.com or follow the Championship's official Facebook page
Tickets cost just 5 Euros.