Cristiano de Freitas makes waves in South African Swimming scene

Humble, calm and focused. These are the words I would use to describe Cristiano de Freitas. This 13-year-old CBC Boksburg student has literally been making waves in the local swimming scene and proving to be someone for whom dedication comes naturally.

Having started swimming competitively at the age of 11, Cristiano, who has the full support of his father, John-Edward and his mother, Rosy, has since made giant strides not only in the pool but also in open sea swimming, having completed his first Midmar Mile, the world’s largest open water swim, in an extremely respectful time of 25’57’’.

A member of the Boksburg Aquatic Saints club, Cristiano’s training routine is nothing short of impressive. After a full day at school, he can be found at the club from Monday to Friday from 4pm to 6pm, somehow finding time in his busy schedule to also focus on his school work. All this in a day that typically starts at 6am and only sees his returning home often around 8pm. This is, indeed, where the focus comes in. Even in the off-season and on weekends, when most teammates are resting, Cristiano makes it a point to visit the swimming pool at his local gym, often with his father’s company, to keep his form up, always seeking to achieve better results.

Although realistic about the difficulty in making a living through swimming, with only the most elite Olympic athletes being able to make a suitable living, and thus looking to become an entrepreneur after his schooling, Cristiano does have his eyes set on growing within the sport. The next step is the South African National Juniors team, which he hopes to qualify for in the next season. On this topic, he was adamant that he looks at his career on a day-by-day basis, only targeting the next conquest, and putting his complete concentration on that.

The 200m freestyle, breaststroke and individual medley are his favourite races, and he has already won a plethora of medals in the categories, although he is extremely timid about just how outstanding his achievements are.

Being from an extremely traditional Portuguese household, most of Cristiano’s Sundays are spent at family lunches, where he loves to spend time also with his brother Salvador and sister Juliana, and the support of said family is not only obvious but imperative to his progress.

When questioned whether he would prefer to compete internationally for South Africa or Portugal, he was quite clear in stating that the standards in South Africa are much greater than those in Portugal. Therefore, that would be the greatest accomplishment of the two. Cristiano’s success demonstrates that dedication, hard work, and a certain modesty that seems to be the trademark of great champions are the ingredients needed to succeed in sport, and are qualities that will undoubtedly serve him well as he tackles life.

We wish him all the success in the world, and would, although this is definitely looking at a longer-term spectrum, love to see him be part of the South African team that will be participating in the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

Roberto Silva

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