Publicado em 10/09/2000, aqui
After three Olympics, Brazilian Rogerio Romero was ready to retire from swimming until his girlfriend talked him into a change of scenery.
He left Brazil and his coach of nine years, moved to Coral Springs and joined several of his teammates training with veteran swim coach Michael Lohberg at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.
“Swimming became fun for me again, and I started swimming faster than I ever have in my life,” said Romero, who qualified for his fourth Olympic Games at the South American Championships.
Romero, who turns 31 in November, will be one of the oldest swimmers in Sydney. He first qualified in the 200-meter backstroke in 1:59.23 and added the 100-meter backstroke in 55.83, the first time he swam under 56 seconds in his career. He is ranked fourth in the world in the 200 backstroke.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could swim like this when I am in my 30s,” Romero said.
Romero will be joined by former No. 1-ranked sprinter Fernando Scherer, coming back from ankle and tooth problems that forced him to cut back on his training, and Flavia Delaroli, one of Brazil’s new young stars. “They call me the `Old Man’ of the team, but I don’t mind,” Romero said. “I have done something I never thought possible.”
Lohberg is making his fourth appearance as an Olympic coach for four different countries. He will work with his three swimmers and the Brazilian team. He also coached at the 1984, 1988 and 1996 Olympics.
“Rogerio started enjoying swimming again with us, and his times dropped,” Lohberg said. “The older swimmers come to train, they don’t fool around like some of the younger swimmers. They want to do well.
“With age you get strength, fine tuning in your strokes and mentally you are very tough because you have been there before and seen it all. We just put him in a position to be very successful. I am absolutely convinced he will swim faster at the Olympic Games.”
Swimming is one of the richest and most popular sports in Brazil. The sport’s federation is supported by private sponsors and soccer teams such as Flamenco. Romero spends $1,500 a month to live and train South Florida.
“If I do very well at the Olympics I will be very, very happy,” Romero said.