It takes more than finely honed strokes to make it to top of the swimming world.
Nicolas Nilo Caesar Oliveira, a three-time Olympian and six-time participant in the World Championships, visited the Cayman Islands last weekend to impart wisdom and a road map to the top of his discipline during clinics with the Stingray Swim Club.
Oliveira, 29, a native of Belo Horizonte in Brazil who specialized in the 200-meter freestyle, recently retired following a berth in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Oliveira, who said he comes from a lower socioeconomic class than many of his fellow swimmers, told the swim club members about how he moved to the United States at age 17 to further his career. He had to teach himself English and deal with his mother’s untimely passing before he ultimately passed the exams needed to attend the University of Arizona, where he received a swimming scholarship. From there, he parlayed his skill into a lengthy international career.
David Pursley, head coach of the Stingray Swim Club, said he was thrilled to have Oliveira meet the club’s kids.
“The timing for Nilo’s clinics and inspirational talks could not have been better,” he said. “As we head into our championship competitions next month, Nilo was able to share with our swimmers his racing strategies and pre-racing routines.
“He gave them advice on handling pressure and preached a method of swimming within yourself regardless of external factors. His advice no doubt struck a chord with some of our swimmers and will help them as they head off to unfamiliar territories under immense pressure.”
Oliveira, a former South American record-holder in the 100m and 200m freestyle, took fifth place with his teammates in the 100m freestyle relay at the 2016 Olympics in his homeland. But it took a long and difficult process to elevate him to the top of the swimming world.
Oliveira helped give technical swimming advice to the swim club members and held a question-and-answer session. The swimmers also watched “The Black Line,” a movie made to promote swimming in the African-American community and to raise awareness and help prevent drowning.
Several Caribbean star swimmers – including local stars Brett and Shaune Fraser – were featured in the film.
Coach Pursley said he was thrilled his students got to meet with Oliveira in person.
“We are blessed here in Cayman to have opportunities such as these come around each year,” Pursley said of the opportunity to learn from an Olympian. “I hope that we never take them for granted and that everybody involved walked away from the event feeling empowered.”