On the Road to the Olympics

Freshman Gabby Vieira swims the 100-meter butterfly event, at the Central Municipal Pool in Cape Girardeau, MO.

photo courtesy of: Andrew Thompson/Visual Echos Photography

Freshman Gabby Vieira swims the 100-meter butterfly event, at the Central Municipal Pool in Cape Girardeau, MO.

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With the starting block against her feet and the lights shining down on her back, a quote resonates in her mind, and she reminds herself, “Pain is weakness leaving the body, so always try harder.”

Freshman Gabriela Vieira started swimming when she was seven. Her love for swimming comes from visits to the pool as a child.

“I’d been dancing my whole life and had never thought about swimming. Eight years ago, I’d been at the pool and the coach, Steve Franklin, asked if I wanted to join the team,” Vieira said.

Vieira was first in the nation at age 12 for the 50-meter Butterfly: earning one of the top ten fastest times in history for the age group.

“I felt proud about working hard to accomplish something that big,” Vieira said.

Vieira lived in Cape Girardeau, originally coming from Brazil, and swam for the Gator Swim team for eight years.

“I moved here over the summer for my dad’s job and began to swim for Clayton Shaw Park,” Vieira said, “I would’ve swam for the Parkway West Swim team, but I have an injured knee and shoulder.  If I swam for West High high it would be on top of club training, and the stress of both schedules could be a problem now that I’m finally recovering.”

One of Vieira’s latest accomplishments occurred over the summer at a Mizzou meet.

“I made junior and senior national cuts in the hundred meter fly, my best stroke. My coach told me afterwards that I was nine-tenths of a second away from making Olympic cuts,” Vieira said. “I was trying to qualify for junior nationals; I ended up over-achieving.”

Vieira finished the race with a 1:02.89 with the Olympic trial cut at 1:01.99.

“I hope to go to the 2016 Olympics for the American team, but I’m not an American citizen yet,” Vieira said. “ I plan on taking the test next summer.”

Swimming was not always easy for Vieria.

“I definitely had to practice and get the hang of it when I started swimming, I think I threw up at almost every practice,” Vieria said. “I had additional training as well: I work with a personal trainer, I do physical therapy, and I do dry land, which is running exercises. Also, during the summer and before meets, I have a special no-sugar diet.”

Though Vieria has accomplished much more in a short nine year swimming career than many hope to in a high-school career, she still pushes herself to do more.

Freshman Gabriela Vieira swims the 100-meter butterfly event, at the Central Municipal Pool in Cape Girardeau, MO.

“In November, I’m going to Brazil for the Junior National Championships, hopefully everything goes well there,” Vieria said, “ I’m not sure when, but I want to get a medal in the hundred fly.”

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