It's hard to attain yourself to only one memory.
Actually it's not a specific memory, but it’s afeeling.
The feeling of belief.
The feeling of believing that I could achieve something higher and bigger than what I already had.
I wasn’t sure where it comes from, and I wasn’t really sure exactly “what”, I could achieve. But I knew there was something bigger than myself.
Bigger than life itself.
Bigger than the life I was living at that moment.
© La Presse M.Paolone
I always loved to be in sports.
I always loved to be active.
I have parents who always understood how sport can be important to build the character of a human being, its inner beauty, its civic consciousness, its mental health, specially as a kid.
And, being so much around sports, this desire of achieving something greater, find its natural way to became a reality.
I wished so hard, that it became true.
My dad has always be the leader of the family, the guide.
He’s an extremely hard working man.
A man lead by morals, and by the sense of duty he has towards his family.
A mother who taught me everything I needed to know about compassion, about loving, about being fair as a man.
Not only parents, but really good friends and really good mentors too.
Sweet love and hard work.
Passion and sense of urgency: I can see both of them, living inside of me.
I can feel them whispering in my ears, every step of the way.
© Mine Kasapoglu
So, on one hand, I had my “Adam and Eve”: the minds behind my own existence.
The writers of my DNA, with their gifts: the two halves of my soul.
While, on the other hand, I had that feeling of belief, which was only mine.
Which was hard to express, difficult to tame.
Impossible to explain.
Is there. It has always been there.
How come I’m the only one seeing it?
© Gian Mattia D'Alberto La Presse
Swimming was the answer.
I mean, swimming was, at least, one answer.
My best answer.
I could have been an artist.
Or a singer.
Maybe a boxer.
But I do love competing. And more than competing, I do love winning. I'm really blinded by feelings towards my story, towards my decision making. I do try to put a little bit of brain in it, but what triggers my decisions are mostly feelings and the desire of winning.
And the way I found to express that feeling was swimming, and so I swam.
And I’ve been swimming as hard as I could ever since.
In life, I think you can answer every single question with another question, which is “why not?”, and nobody can prove you wrong.
Growing older, I'm not finding myself super interested in sports, in general.
In general, I don't follow sports that closely.
And swimming is not that interesting from an entertainment perspective.
We deeply struggle to make it attractive for people outside the bubble.
Of course the World Championship and the Olympics are a different animal, but for everything else, for all the others meets, besides journalist, former swimmers and family of athletes we struggle to invite people to follow the sport closely.
That’s kind of the nature of the sport: you have to put your face into the water, deal with pain and fears, and never take the eyes out of the black line.
And you have to do it over and over again until your goals don’t seems that unrealistic anymore.
© Mine Kasapoglu
But still, when I was younger, swimming was the sport that would reward me with the better feeling of competition and of course, with the highest feeling, with the highest notion of winning, of success.
So I loved it anyway.
And I still love it.
That's why I still keep swimming: to pursue this notion, this feeling, this emotion of success, of being successful, of being accomplished.
To honor the competition, my inner nature and ultimately to win, because the moment you are able to force your will on your rivals is like nothing else in the entire World.
And I'm not going to be conciliatory.
I'm not going to lie and say that: “oh, the important is to be there”.
No, what matters is to win. What matters is to be successful. And swimming gives me that. And I love I really, really love it.
Because there lies the feeling of belief, the reason for me to be me.
© ATHLETE PHOTOSHOOT
There's a whole bunch of ego involved.
And if you're not careful, it becomes all about you. If you're not careful, you're going to become an extremely selfish yet talented athlete.
And then success doesn't mean anything when you're selfish, when you don't share your success with others.
Being able to win, being able to be successful in sports also gives you a platform, and the opportunity to spread a message, and that's when it really becomes relevant to the World.
Because if you stop and think “what is my contribution to society?”, crossing the pool faster than other people doesn't mean a thing.
It’s part of my story, my life, but that doesn't mean a lot to anyone.
I mean, why should I care now? It doesn't change anyone's life!
So: swimming gives you the opportunity to win.
And winning gives you a platform and that's when your scope shifts.
When I have people reaching out to me and telling me that they were about to quit on their goal, but they didn't because they saw some story about me, or they saw some post about me, and I was able, through my story, to change their mind, that's what I value the most.
So when you're young, maybe in your early twenties, and you want to win to feed your ego, that’s OK. It’s part of the deal.
But it would be extremely stupid for me, at 33 years of age, wanting to win because I want to feel good about myself. And let's be honest, nobody is swimming for the money either.
It about spreading a message, a message which is coming from within and a message that is able to make me feel part of something bigger.
That feeling of belief.
In the end of the day, I did find myself, and yet, day after day, I’m still looking for something greater.