Florian Wellbrock


At times, life can be scary.

It can bring you in front of the deepest questions, before you even have a full understanding of their meaning.

It can force you to think big, way ahead of time.

It forces you to make decisions, to ask yourself who you are, who you have been and who you want to be.

It's ironic.

And it's also beautiful.

The engine of existence itself: one of the reasons why we are who we are.


Water means love, to me.

Since the first day.

But, over time, water has also been pain and loss.

It was a wound.

A fear that has accompanied me for a long time, emerging from the past.

Fear of the open water, fear of sharks, fear of the unknown: something that can make me suffer.

Make me relive forgotten moments.

Florian Wellbrock

© LA PRESSE - Gianmattia d'Alberto GMD

When I started swimming I was just a kid.

I had no idea of the future, I didn't dream of becoming a champion, I didn't even know that there would be competitions, if I wanted to.

I was just a shy kid.

The smallest and thinnest in the class, ut I knew how to transform into the water.

Because under the surface of the water, even if it’s completely transparent, you can hide everything you want.

Silence protects you from the outside, surrounding you completely with nothing but your thoughts. And since that moment, the only thing that matter is your relationship with them.

I fell in love with swimming because it was an individual sport, in which however I never felt alone, because my teammates were always there with me.

I fell in love because when I changed the element I felt like a different person, like I was really capable of flying over water.

Like if I had a super power, in there.

Florian Wellbrock

© LA PRESSE - Gianmattia d'Alberto GMD

I had my doubts, of course.

Like anyone else, in sports.

Motivation drops sometimes, and in those moments, even the idea of going out to party with some friends seems more important than your career.

But then it passes.

Everything passes.

If you know how to give yourself small goals, day after day, to always level up, everything pass. Even the worst days.

In the continuous repetition of the stroke, the mind frees itself.

It finds a living space.

The thought process is an endless alternation between excess and composure.

Between silence and chaos.

Between freedom and structure.

Florian Wellbrock

© LA PRESSE - Gianmattia d'Alberto GMD

There are so many things you have to think about that I've learned to clear my head when I get in the water for a workout.

The mind goes blank.

Almost rocked by the roll of my shoulders.

The soul leans on the repetitiveness of that gesture, on the time tou want on the stopwatch, on the series you have to do.

I become water, and I get lost in it.

I’m still myself, but I'm better.

I'm stronger.

Because I've discovered that the body can do very special things when talent meets hard work.

The competition, on the other hand, is completely different, and looks more like an action movie, in which you are the main actor, the hero, and where every little detail has enormous value.

Everything matters and, at the same time, everything matters just for you, not for the others.

It matter for your psyche.

For your spiritual balance.

It's you and your performance, nothing else.

The head enters a state of complete unconsciousness, a state of flow, which consumes the legs with disarming speed. You could swim to the moon.

Then, only when you've reached the last few strokes, your brain get back to work, and focus on the details, even the smallest ones, those that make the difference between a medal and a defeat.

Florian Wellbrock

© LA PRESSE - Gianmattia d'Alberto GMD

It took some time to realize how strong I could really become.

Time to understand that the open water and the swimming pool could coexist.

Time to become the athlete I am today.

Inside and outside the water.

I turned pro when I was just 18, and I still remember the tension I felt the following year, at the Rio Olympics, when I found myself among such big names of the swimming world.

From that day forward, I always tried my best to go to the block with a smile, always expressing all my happiness.

The time came accordingly.

I realized, from my first German record, that nothing really changes, from the smaller pools to those most important ones.

The water is the same.

The lanes are the same too.

Of course, the opponents change, and the more you level up the more difficult it is to touch first, at the end of the race.

But if you manage to remain yourself even while the world outside is getting bigger and bigger, you will have found the recipe to become great.

A key to always looking proudly at the man in the mirror, and the strength to ask the future for only one thing, and one thing only: to be happy.

To be water.

Florian Wellbrock / Contributor

Florian Wellbrock