Monaco Olympic athletes in the spotlight. Interview with Claudia Verdino

Born in Monaco on the 28th November 2001, she started swimming at the age of seven, becoming a sport champion focused on the medley, the backstroke and then on the breaststroke (since 2021). She is currently living in Paris where she attends the Faculty of Medicine.

She has been attending pivotal swimming international meetings notably: the 2017 World Aquatics Championships in the women’s 200 meters backstroke category and the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics held in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

In July 2021, she attended Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games competing on the 25th July 2021 for the Principality of Monaco in the category 100m breaststroke under the guidance of her coach, Michel Pou.

Her father, Christophe Verdino, represented Monaco in 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games as a swimmer.

Her inspiring figure in sport is Katinka Hosszú, skilled Hungarian swimmer, nicknamed Iron Lady.

HelloMonaco: What was it like when you got the invitation to Tokyo 2020?

C.V.: I didn’t get the good news soon but my mother instead, since at that time I was doing a medical internship at De Créteil Hospital in Paris urban area. I was then informed by my mom about it just after serving at the Health Centre. It is still difficult to express what I felt in that moment: a mix of excitement and joy because I didn’t really expect it, so, at first, I couldn’t believe it.

HelloMonaco: What did you appreciate and dislike the most of Tokyo 2020?

C.V.: Attending the Olympics was an incomparable experience which I will always remember. The most exciting moment was before the race when I said to myself: “I am going to swim at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, at last!!!”. The worse moment was, of course, when I realized I was disqualified even though I thought I had performed pretty good, being completely satisfied with my time. Anyway, I could really enjoy myself during such an international environment in close contact with the other international athletes.

HelloMonaco: World athleticism is well known in the family as your father attended the Olympic Games twice under the flag of the Principality. Did it influence your career choice? What do you like most of your sport discipline?

C.V.: Well, it was quite by chance. My father taught me to swim to allow me to survive any risk in water since we had a boat and we were used to sailing. I immediately felt at ease in water, and it is still so. In particular, I really enjoy doing my best while training. Passing the Medical Public Contest one year before the Olympics was a lucky coincidence. In fact, it was a tough test with only 160 places available on 1500 registered. That pushed me to study up to ten hours per day. I had then less time to train, therefore, that is 5/6 times per week instead of 9/10 times. I knew that I was missing the necessary workout to ‘hold’ 200m back or the ‘4nages’ (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, free swimming). Thus, I decided to focus on the 50m / 100m breaststroke ‘just to try’ in view of future challenges. I succeeded very well and I was later qualified for the French Elite Swimming Championship, valid to access to the Olympic Games.

HelloMonaco: Professional swimming needs endurance and strength, how did you prepare for the Olympic challenge? What is your typical daily training?

C.V.: Actually, I didn’t train myself thinking of Tokyo 2020 also because my participation was not sure. I was completely driven in achieving the best results at the French Elite Championship. Usually, I train early in the morning, from 6:15 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. Then, from 9:00 a.m. up to 10:00 p.m. I work on my medical studies with some muscle training on my breaks. Facing the medical test last year encouraged me to increase confidence in myself which helped me a lot this year.

HelloMonaco: Did the pandemic restrictions affect you in some way towards the Olympics?

C.V.: Unlike many others, Covid-19 health measures ‘helped’ me since I could keep training during the week without having swimming competitions during the weekends so that I could also devote myself on my job. When sport challenges started at the end of 2020, I had more time for swimming. Perfect timing!

HelloMonaco:  H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco was your main supporter by attending the event live, did you appreciate it?

C.V.: The fact that the Sovereign Prince was there sitting on the stands ‘just for me’ and the other athletes from Monaco gave me a great joy and made me feel lucky to be part of Monaco’s community. We couldn’t meet him in person due to sanitary restrictions but the Prince called me just after the disqualification to cheer me up. A nice gesture that I will never forget!

HelloMonaco : What are your plans for the future?

C.V.:. My plans for the future really depend on my Med School studies. My idea is to start soon training professionally to be ready to face 25m & 50m World and French Championships this year….and, why not, in view to Paris 2024 which I already keep in my head, even if there are three years left.

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