Gabi’s Goals

Reflections magazine: When did you start swimming?
Gabi Farinas: I started when I was five years old. It was a way to like get the blood to my feet. And floating in the water just felt so good to me.

RM: Can you explain a little about club foot for those who might not know about the condition?
GF: I was born with the most severe.  My ankles were turned in at 90 degrees, and my feet basically upside down with the tops of my feet facing the ground. So I’ve had a ton of foot manipulations from just a few weeks old.

RM: And you’ve had surgeries as well?
GF: Yeah, the first one I remember was at 11 years old. We did both legs at the same time and it was incredibly painful.

RM: What does that mean to you to have gone down to Santiago and compete with the world’s best now just a few years later?
GF: I mean, it’s just insane. I remember that me at 11 years old, and I was really nervous. I didn’t even know if swimming on that level was what I wanted to do because I’d been used to just competing at local swim meets here. I remember seeing all of the biggest swimmers, and I’m now competing on the same team. It used to be like, ‘Can I have your signature?’ Now were on the same flight together, competing against each other. And I think that’s just crazy.

Gabi Farinas

RM: Can you tell me about the event in Santiago in November of last year? What were your expectations for it?
GF: My event for the Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games was the 50-meter freestyle. That’s what got me on the Paralympic emerging team.

RM: What did your training for this huge event look like?
GF: I worked with a sports trainer that specializes with all my conditions. Because it’s not just the feet. For the past two years, I’ve had this ongoing shoulder problem. And it was mostly caused by my ankles, because one of them is worse. So, it throws off my whole entire rotation.

RM: What do your peers think about your accomplishments? And how do people kind of react to this whole story?
GF: A lot of my peers at school wanted to talk to me about it, so it was nice. I got to explain the whole entire Paralympic movement. It’s not super well known, but it’s been gaining popularity these past few years.

RM: And by movement, what do you mean? Can you explain a little bit?
GF: So we have the Olympics and then Para, as in parallel to the Olympics. And they recently made it so that all the same funding goes into both. All the medals win the same amount of money, and they changed a lot about the rules. I think it’s because of a lot of the Paralympians like Jessica Long. She’s a six-time gold medalist. They’ve just been saying, There’s no difference between us and Olympians. We train just as hard probably sometimes even harder.

RM: What’s in store for the future for you?
GF: The ultimate goal is to make 2028 Los Angles team.

RM: And you think you’ll be swimming your whole life?
GF: That’s the great thing about swimming; it can be lifelong. Yeah, definitely. Even if I’m not winning medals, the meets are so much fun.

RM: What is your biggest piece of advice for other athletes?
GF: Just to keep going? I mean, I’ve wanted to quit on many days, and just get up and do it again. Yeah, just surround yourself with people who want to push you.

Gabbing with Gabi

Favorite pre-race meal:
Something simple, probably scrambled eggs.

Favorite pre-race race song:
“Barracuda,” by Heart

Favorite subject in school:
Math, trigonometry

I have two cats and a dog.

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