SAVIGLIANO – Sarah Curtis, rising star in swimming: “I dream of Olympic gold. But great things take time.”
Discovering the promising Savigliano, who has achieved success and records in recent months: “Paris 2024? Yes, I hope so. Swimming is everything, but I also want to study: maybe psychology.”
“I hope to become one of the strongest swimmers in Italy and I dream of winning the Olympics.” Between concrete goals and secret dreams, Sarah Curtis isn’t afraid to hide. Yes, and it is also difficult to do this when the results of a sixteen-year-old girl who literally exploded in recent months speak for themselves. First in Riccione, where she dominated the National Junior Criteria last April, winning five gold medals (50m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle) and setting an Italian record among Cadets in the 50m freestyle, and then gained international recognition with five more medals at the European Junior Championships in Belgrade (gold in the 50m freestyle and 4x100m relay and medley, silver in the 100m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay). man-woman style), then the last feat in early August, in Rome, at the Absolute Championship of the category, with three more gold medals among cadets (50 m freestyle, 100 m freestyle and 50 m butterfly) and an Italian record for 50 m freestyle style, which she already kept, retouched and brought to 25” 01. In between awards, articles, interviews (including ours). The sudden notoriety that Sarah from Savigliano with an Italian father and a Nigerian mother, registered with the Dimensione Nuoto Team and accompanied by coach Thomas Majora, manages with surprising maturity and simplicity, which yes, for her age: 16 years old, but still for a few days, because on Saturday, August 19, he will turn 17.
Sarah, let’s start with the most recent joys: medals from Rome and a retouched record. Did you expect this?
“Truth be told, no. I considered these Italian championships only as a stage of transition and approach to the World Championship, which will be held in September in Israel. Of course I wanted to win the race, but I didn’t have the goal of breaking the record. A truly unexpected and beautiful joy. I am very pleased with what I managed to do in Rome. And that 50m freestyle really entered my heart.”
Is this your favorite race at the moment?
“Yes, with Riccione, always in the 50m freestyle, in April, when I set the Italian record for the first time. That time I felt something special and magical, right from the first blocks. I felt good, I enjoyed every shot and in the last few meters I pushed again with the determination to touch first. When I found out that I signed a new record, it was a mixture of indescribable emotions.
Between them, the European Championship was held in Belgrade. Would you like to tell us that even then you were amazed at what you achieved?
“Yes (laughs, ed.). In fact, I did not expect to win so many medals. Also because the competitions were very important, the best athletes of the European level participated in them. In particular, winning the 100m freestyle surprised and gave me great satisfaction because it is a race that I am still building and for which I need much more preparation than for the 50m. It was the most unexpected medal, but also in relay races we didn’t think we were that good. And it’s always nice to win with teammates.”
How do you deal with this sudden attention to you?
“I like it. Especially the kids in the pool. It’s great to know that you are the starting point for the little ones. Someone tells me: “When I grow up, I want to become like you”: for me it is a great pride. Even when I I walk along the streets of Savigliano, people often stop me and compliment me: it’s beautiful, I’m glad.”
How was your passion for swimming born?
“When she was pregnant with me, my mother did water aerobics. In short, you can say that my passion was already there when I was still in my mother’s belly! Then, at the age of two, I started attending courses, and at the age of 6, I began precompetitive training. I have always swum since I was a little girl and have always put swimming first. It’s a sport that I really enjoy, that builds you up and gives you important values.”
How do you manage to combine student life with the duties of an athlete of your level?
“The days are busy between studying and training. Let’s say when I come home in the evening, I’m very tired (laughs, ed.). But when there is a desire and determination, everything can be done. Of course, there are sacrifices, and when I may have to give up an evening with friends or a trip, it puts a little pressure on me. But this is what I wanted to do since childhood, what I dreamed about, and the sacrifices pay off with satisfaction. But besides swimming, I also want to learn. I said earlier that swimming has always come first, but studying is also very important to me. I am currently in my fourth year at the Technical Institute of Economics and Tourism in Savigliano: then I would like to continue my career by going to university. I would like to study psychology.”
What do you like to do when you are not studying and swimming? What kind of girl are you?
“A very normal girl who likes to meet friends, go out, read and listen to music. In particular, Marracash, Salmo, Travis Scott and The Weeknd. Also Kendrick Lamar, who I often listen to before races.”
Speaking of racing. Your favorite is the 50m freestyle, which lasts about 25 seconds. What do you think at these moments?
“Honestly, I think very little in those 25 seconds. I concentrate: here I am and the bath. Then I rush and swim, trying to run as fast as possible and get around other athletes.
Do you have an idol, a starting point?
“When I was younger, I followed Federica Pellegrini a lot. Growing up, I fell in love with Marco Orsi, who became my favorite swimmer. I also got to know him by finding a very humble person. I’m inspired by him.”
Are you very close to Savigliano?
“I was born in Genola, where I lived until the age of 12. We moved to Savigliano four years ago, but yes, I am attached to this city, where I feel very comfortable and where I have all my friends.”
When shall we see you in the voyage of the greats?
“It’s hard to say that it takes a certain amount of time to get there. The goal we are working on is to be able to enter the Absolute from next year. But if this goal is not achieved, it will not be a problem. There is time. But big things take time.”
There is still time for the Olympics. But are you thinking about Paris 2024?
“Yes, I think about it. There is hope to get there. But if it’s not Paris, then in 2028 it will be Los Angeles.”
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
“I hope to become one of the strongest swimmers in Italy. When you play a sport at a competitive level, you put in the effort and care so much about it that you can’t stop thinking about it.”
What if instead you have to dream big?
“The biggest dream is to win a medal at the Olympics”
In the meantime, think about the World Junior Championships in Netanya, Israel.
“Yes, they will be held from 4 to 9 September. I train in Savigliano, and from August 17th I will be in Ostia for a collegiate meeting (which will be attended by coach Thomas Majora, who will then follow her in Israel, ed.), and on September 2nd I will leave for Israel. After the results obtained in recent months, obviously I will go there with more awareness. It will be a pleasure to compete with the best swimmers in the world.”