Michelle Alonso, from "rescuing" trophies from the pool in Ofra to lighting it up with Paralympic gold

Before becoming a Paralympic champion, Michelle alonso came to “rescue from the water” the trophies that golfillos they pulled to the bottom of the pool from your school. At CEIP Las Delicias from Ofra, they always called her when such incidents occurred, since she was the only student capable of diving three and a half meters. “With the legs of a frog, he recovered everything that had been thrown to the bottom: stones, trophies and other objects that they took from a display case that was in an office …”, he recalls. Now, the medalist visits that ruined pool “With a horrible grief” and asks that “fix it because it was incredible and it would be cool if the neighbors and students of the school could enjoy it as I did”.

At school they receive her in style. “You are a total winner, in swimming and in life,” says Ana, secretary of the center. Michelle Alonso arrives accompanied by her mother, Conchi, which brings some photos of the years when your daughter swam there. No one is surprised that Physical Education, which was the subject in which Las Delicias students went to the pool, was the medalist’s favorite subject.

The first time he swam in that pool was at the age of seven. Before that, he knew how to “float” in the water – clarifies Conchi– but “he learned to swim in the school pool”. The young woman explains that there was also a small pool for the Infantile children but, unfortunately, she could not use it because in her time it was already “destroyed”.

She was a pool user until 2007, when she finished Primary Education. In the stands her mother always encouraged her, so she does not hesitate to look towards her when asked about her greatest support in sport. “I wanted the time to come when Michelle had to come, because I was looking forward to it. She would come and see the gang, talk and hesitate. At first it was like a game, but then swimming became more serious, “he says. Conchi.

On a personal level, swimming has improved the life of the Paralympic champion: “Thanks to this I have very good friends and with all the interviews they have given me, I am more and more able to talk.” The young woman, who has an intellectual disability, had some difficulties with language in her childhood, something that is barely noticeable now.

At school, everything seems “smaller” than before

The swimmer visits what used to be her school to show her former teachers her last Olympic medal, the gold achieved in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games -where he has also repeated a new world record-. Diving among memories, to Michelle Alonso everything in the place now seems “smaller”: the assembly hall where the parties were held, the chairs in her class, the patio where she played … “Could it be that I see it that way because I have grown up? ? ”He asks himself between laughs.

The public school where he studied is quite peculiar in the area, not only because it has a swimming pool, but also because it conserves the model bungalow in which each classroom looks like a small home independent that has its own patios for children to play. Later, other schools were built in the neighborhood, in which space was optimized by building upwards.

Some things have changed in the place. “There was a tree there,” says the swimmer, “and the director, Genaro Padilla, explains that it had to be removed because he was sick. The stairs were also remodeled, “which were deadly, especially once I twisted my ankle and going up them seemed endless,” says Alonso.

The little Mermaid, future name of the pool of Las Delicias

“What sadness, by God!”, Exclaimed Michelle Alonso as she passed the door that gives access to the pool of Las Delicias, now in ruins. He visits the facility with his third Paralympic medal on his chest and points out that in his time it was “an incredible pool, with an acceptable depth, although the stands were already bad.”

In addition to wishing that other students from the school and neighbors of the neighborhood could enjoy it one day, Alonso said that “it would be nice if a club could also use it, as before.” Specifically, it was the Agrupación Deportiva Santa Cruz, to which the swimmer belonged, which exercised club functions in the place. The medalist points out that her current coach, José Luis Guadalupe, also came to swim in that pool. “Who hasn’t swum here?” Asks the young woman, alluding to a long pool of athletes.

For Conchi, recovering the infrastructure is “fundamental” for the neighborhood given the “few resources that exist.” The mother of the medalist considers that “on an island, children have to learn to swim” and points out that the discipline acquired through sport is very valuable: “You learn to comply with certain schedules and rules, to take care of your cleanliness personal, to discharge the energy into the water and then pay attention in the studies ”.

The success that the pool experienced between the 80s and 90s was, according to Michelle Alonso’s mother, ‘a boom’, since “summer courses were held and they didn’t even need to be promoted, it was something that was talked about throughout the neighborhood , it went from mouth to mouth. It was no longer practicing soccer or basketball, which not everyone liked, it was something different ”.

All this has been confirmed for years by Genaro Padilla, the director of CEIP Las Delicias, that is why he does not cease in his struggle to recover the pool. In this last visit of Michelle Alonso to the school, she promised her that when she is rehabilitated, the pool will be baptized in her honor with the name of The little Mermaid.

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