Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font

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Deborah Font at Madrid–Barajas Airport on Friday
Image: Laura Hale.
Wikinews interviews Deborah Font
Audio: Laura Hale.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Last Friday at Madrid–Barajas Airport, Wikinews interviewed Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font, who is competing at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships that started this Monday in Montreal, Canada. Font has finished second in Monday's Women's 100 meter Freestyle S12 Heat 1, before going on to finish fourth in the Women's 100 meter Freestyle S12 Final with a time of 1:03.20, less than a second behind bronze medalist German Naomi Maike Schnittger.

((Wikinews)) I'm Laura Hale, I'm interviewing Deborah Font for Wikinews. Deborah is going to the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal. You're already a Paralympic medallist, right? You've won several medals at the Paralympics before?

Deborah Font: I won two medals in Sydney [2000 Summer Paralympic Games], a gold medal and bronze medal; in Athens [2004 Summer Paralympic Games] two silver medals and one bronze medal; in Beijing [2008 Summer Paralympic Games] one bronze medal; and in London [2012 Summer Paralympic Games] one bronze medal. Seven in Paralympic Games.

((WN)) And in World Championships?

Deborah Font: I don't know the exact number. Several.

((WN)) What style do you swim?

Deborah Font: 400m freestyle.

((WN)) Okay, and you're going to do that in Montreal?

Deborah Font: In Montreal I'll do 400m freestyle.

((WN)) You think you're going to get a medal?

Deborah Font: Yes, I'm fighting for a silver or bronze medal.

((WN)) What classification are you?

Deborah Font: S-12.

((WN)) S-12. So you have partial vision.

Deborah Font: Yeah, partial. [I can see a little.]

((WN)) Since you cannot see perfectly, when you swim, can you see the people next to you?

Deborah Font: I can see those next to me, but not perfectly. I see those near to me, but not those far from me.

((WN)) Do you think about other swimmers when you swim, or is it a disadvantage because you cannot see swimmers farther away?

Deborah Font: I swim my race, and don't see the other swimmers.

((WN)) They don't matter when you swim? You swim against yourself, your best time?

Deborah Font: I swim against myself, I don't see the other swimmers too much. My race, myself, I go inside myself.

((WN)) Do you have any sponsors?

Deborah Font: No, no sponsors.

((WN)) How difficult is it to swim in Spain for Paralympic swimmers when you don't have sponsors?

Deborah Font: We have a Paralympic Committee. It's difficult having sponsors in Spain. For the Olympics, athletes don't have many sponsors, and for Paralympics it's more difficult.

((WN)) Where are you from?

Deborah Font: Barcelona.

((WN)) Is swimming more competitive in Barcelona, in Madrid...? Where do you think the best swimmers come from?

Deborah Font: They come from all Spain, but train only in Madrid or Barcelona. Most in Barcelona. (laughs)

((WN)) Is there a reason most of the swimmers train in Barcelona?

Deborah Font: There are more possibilities for training in good swimming pools. The "Centros de Alto Rendimiento" [High Performance Centres] are in Madrid or Barcelona.

((WN)) Coming in into the World Championships, did you do any special training, or change how you prepare?

Deborah Font: I did special training with a coach that only trains three or four of us at the High Performance Centre. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Entrenamos con entrenador especial que por ejemplo él solo nos entrena a tres o cuatro paralímpicos, en el Centro de Alto Rendimiento pero con un entrenador especial que nos sigue a diario y que nos lo hace especialmente para nosotros.

((WN)) This is a pretty dumb question, but I know a lot of people who look at blind swimmers and they go how can they swim at a straight line? Can you clarify how people with vision impairments can actually swim?

Deborah Font: Well, in swimming it's all technique and a lot of learning, and learning to swim by the middle of the lane involves a lot of training, habit... Perhaps it's more difficult for completely blind people, but it's all a matter of training, trying again and again, get to know the swimming pool... But I think the most difficult thing is to learn to swim the technique without being able to see the others, and to know what you are moving, your arm here and not there... and learning to touch the wall, it's harder to calculate, especially when competing, because you cannot see the distance you have to the wall. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Bueno, para nadar casi todo es técnica y mucho aprendizaje, y para nadar recto en la calle es por entrenamiento, por costumbre, por... quizás es más dicifil cuando se es ciego total ir por el medio justo, pero bueno todo está entrenado, es a base de entrenar, intentarlo, conocerte la piscina... Pero creo que lo más dificil es aprender a nadar la técnica sin ver a los demás, y saber lo que estás moviendo, el brazo, y si lo pones aquí, no lo pones aquí, pues eso sí, y llegar a la pared también, es como más dificil de calcular, sobre todo en competición, que no ves la pared a la distancia que estás.

((WN)) Thank you very much!


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.