Albert Subirats: Swimming As A Lifestyle
Albert Subirats: Swimming As A Lifestyle
For a high competency athlete, the sport discipline he practices becomes his lifestyle. It is not only about arduous trainings and rigorous diets, it's about experimenting a way of life that is completely dedicated to sport. They devote most of their day to refine their techniques, correct their failures and strengthen as much as possible each and all of their muscles, needed to achieve the best results.
Albert Subirat Altes, a 28 year - old Venezuelan athlete, born in Valencia in the state of Carabobo, has practised this sport philosophy: in 2007 he was the first swimmer in giving his country a well - deserved medal in the World Swimming Championship in Melbourne. He was the first South American champion in Medellin 2010; he also conquered the first place in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayaguez 2010 and in the Panamerican Games in Guadalajara 2011.
Such a high class medallist performs strict trainings, but at the same time he has known how to channel and develop his professional life in parallel, with plans that will ensure his future. By now, he is focusing on his physical and mental preparation to give even more triumphs to Venezuela.
PAW: It is well known that an athlete's life requires a lot of effort and dedication to achieve great results. Tell us, how are your training and preparation processes before competitions?
AS: Swimming is a long term sport. The preparation I have now is for competitions by the end of this year, since you can only be at your best twice or three times a year. These are training cycles that last, at least, four or five months. Since I moved here, to Alabama, in September 2013, my routine demands double trainings from Monday to Friday, only one on Saturdays, weightlifting four times a week, eleven swimming sessions and physical preparation. As I said, I train from Monday to Friday for 6 hours.
PAW: Your diet is also special.
AS: Indeed. I worked with a nutritionist for a long time, practically during one year and a half, and after that time I learned how my diet must be. I have to be careful when it comes to food, specially with the kinds of food and the quantity.
PAW: And when competitions approach, does your routine change radically?
AS: Training gets lighter. For example, I have a competition in July this year, the Open-air swimming in Paris, that requires complete rest, but to get excellent results I have been training hard since September 2013. That intensity of physical preparation will decrease three weeks and a half before the competition, although my diet will be stricter. I don't stop training, but I do that ''discharge of exercises'', as we call it, only in highly important competitions.
In two weeks, I have the Arizona's Grand Prix and for that particular occasion I don't do the ''discharge''. I will do weightlifting in the morning of the competition day itself.
PAW: Then, it is very important to have a well organised schedule of sport events to train according to their demands. What other competitions do you have apart from the ones you mentioned?
AS: By now, I have two Grand Prix: the one in Arizona, which is in April, and the one in Charlotte in May. In July, I have the Open-air swimming in Paris, the National Competitions in Venezuela in September, the South American in Argentina in October, the Central American in November and the World Championship in short course in December. I'll be competing all year long.
PAW: Apart from your busy life as an athlete and the great amount of time that you dedicate to swimming, we would like to know what Albert Subirats does outside the pool, the activities you carry out in parallel and the hobbies an athlete like you has.
AS: Right now I'm taking a post-grade in International Business and Management. I came back to swimming after a shoulder injury in London that kept me out of training. When I decided to come back, I felt I needed to do something else. I took up swimming that last year, just before London, and the truth is I didn't like to have that one activity only. I like being busy outside the swimming pool so I decided to start this post-grade, which keeps me occupied. I enjoy my studies, they help me keep more balance in my life outside training.
PAW: Are you preparing your professional life for the future, once you retire from competitions? How do you combine these two aspects in your life, sport and work?
AS: I'll start to practise my profession when I finish my activities as a competition athlete. By now, my life is all about training and studying. It is quite hard to develop a professional career simultaneously.
PAW: Since you mentioned your shoulder injury in the London Olympic Games, how did that affect your career?
AS: I first injured my shoulder in September 2011, possibly due to burnout since I've been swimming for twenty two years and this kind of burnout is much bigger in a person who trains on daily basis. Besides, perhaps the physical preparation wasn't how it should be. I participated in the Guadalajara Panamerican Games with that injury and then I went under surgery for the first time. After the operation I needed six months of rest, but the Olympics were nine months ahead, so I didn't really rest and I started training for that great competition. I had a relapse so I had to be operated for a second time, after London, but then I took my time and now, thanks God, I've been doing perfectly well.
PAW: And how was this one year break from your career?
AS: Good, I learned about myself. I could sit down and analyse all things I had done well and those I had done wrong, I also analysed the possibility of retirement and I think it was a period that although it wasn't nice, obviously, I learned a lot and maybe, with time, I will thank for it.
PAW: Did you see that time when you had to rehabilitate and analyse your career so far as a failure?
AS: Failure is a strong word. It would have been a failure if I hadn't done things well or if I had failed in terms of training. The reason why I decided to come back is easy: I've been a swimmer with good results in a Panamerican, Centro American and even in a World level, the only competition I haven't been able to grasp are the Olympic Games, the most important competition of them all. The upcoming Games will be my last opportunity. I've had the fortune of experimenting these great competitions in Athens, that back then they were just to cut my teeth since I was very young, but Beijing and London were hard knocks, maybe I could take them as failures, but they actually became the reason I want to keep on training and fighting, I didn't want to retire that way.
PAW: From those downfalls on, are the Olympic Games your greatest challenges?
AS: Totally. I think it is a mistake to put so much pressure on this competition, I have to gain trust again in these two years before Rio, and I'll try to enjoy this experience as much as I can, I always do that in every single sport event. I only had a bad time in the Olympic Games, and it's because of that pressure I mentioned. That is something that has to change.
PAW. Now, facing the 2015 Panamerican Games, what are your expectations? What do you want to achieve and how do you plan to achieve it?
AS: It's the biggest competition for our country and if I'm lucky, I'll be there, defending my title in 100 metre- butterfly. I'm going to measure my performance there as well.
Training will also change - we do that every season- and my coach will be another one. For me, the Panamerican Games are one of my biggest competition in 2015. I'll have a long and hard training for that.
PAW: Two years ago you had a one year penalty and as a consequence you couldn't compete internationally. How did that affect the development of your sport life?
AS: It really affected me, it was the hardest part to assume in my career. What happened, basically, was that there was a huge misunderstanding between the National Federation and the FINA (International Swimming Federation in French), about my papers that endorsed my perfect results in my anti-doping test. My information didn't get to FINA, but I appealed and won. From that moment on, I personally take my information to FINA.
FINA's suspension was in June 2011 and I won the appeal in August 2012, nevertheless, the whole process had started in February 2010. It was a total of eight or nine months of downfall, without knowing what was going to happen, but I finally won the appeal.
PAW: About the coach, have you always had the same or have you changed? How is the selection process?
AS: I changed. After my surgery I decided I needed a change I analysed many places and this, where I am today (Alabama) was one of the places I was interested in. I came to visit, to speak with the coach and he gave me a lot of trust, I liked his mindset and his approach to trainings. Everything has been better than expected.
PAW: Here, in Venezuela, what do you have to say about a sport such as swimming? Do you see a good projection into the future, good athletes, good coaches?
AS: Of course! I believe Venezuela has the most important ones. Great human resources when it comes to athletes and coaches, they have a very good level. I was lucky enough to have Luis Moreno has a coach, who has trained me since I was 9 and we still have a good relationship.
Venezuela has everything, maybe it is lacking support from other places and installations where this sport is practised should be looked after. Current Venezuelan athletes are very good, these sportsmen will be well prepared for the next two or three Olympics if they train properly. Good results are to be seen in a short term.