Auburn News

Marcelo Chierighini ’15 and current student, Luis Martinez get ready for Rio.

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Auburn University will be well represented at this year’s Olympics in Rio. With only two weeks left until the games begin the pressure is on. We talked with swimmers Marcelo Chierighini ‘15 and Luis Martinez who are both competing in Rio, about what keeps them focused and how they are feeling with the Olympics being right around the corner.

Marcelo, Chierighini Auburn swimming and diving heads and team on Monday, August 26, 2013 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst

The 2016 Olympics will be Marcelo Chierighini’s second. He competed for Brazil in the 2012 London games, placing 9th in the 4×100-metre freestyle and 15th in the 4×100-metre medley relay. However, this year is different. This time, Chierighini will be competing in his home Olympics, something he said he was most excited about.

“I think it’s a combination of seeing all the Brazil fans because they are really loud especially with soccer and everything,” he said. “They can cheer very passionately so I am really looking forward to seeing the Brazil crowd and seeing my family and friends cheering for me.”

Chierighini graduated from Auburn just this past year and now that he is not taking classes anymore, he gets to focus solely on his training. The swimmer leaves for Rio in a little less than a week and said he was feeling a medley of ways.

“I’m feeling pretty excited, it’s getting real, every day,” Chierighini said. “I am training and it’s getting closer and closer. I am getting a little nervous, anxious and a little bit excited all at the same time, but I am looking forward to it.”

Chierighini’s coach and Auburn swimming head coach, Brett Hawke said Marcelo was in the “best shape of his life.”

“One of my favorite things about coaching Marcelo is just seeing his grown and maturity. He has gone through the collegiate process, swam very well for Auburn University, and now as a professional athlete has become very mature in his approach to his swimming,” Hawke said. “It has been fun to watch him prepare for his home Olympics and know this is the best shape he has ever been in.”

Luis Martinez is currently a mechanical engineering student at Auburn. He earned his Olympic Qualifying Time in December at the AT&T Winter Nationals in Federal Way, Washington, when he placed third in a time of 52.35 behind Michael Phelps and Tom Shields in the 100m butterfly. Rio will be Martinez’s first appearance at the Olympics.

“So many things were going through my head when I found out I was going to the Olympics. It is hard to focus on something I was thinking about,” Martinez said. “First, I was like ‘I am very tired right now, just because of all the emotions and things, but what really came to me was all the memories, of all the times I was struggling with school and stuff like that and knowing that I don’t regret any of the decisions that I made.”

Martinez said in order to stay focused on his goals and not crack under the pressure and hype surrounding the Olympics he likes to take small steps and solve one problem before thinking about another one. Luis also said he does not have any pre or post meet rituals.

“I know a lot of swimmers do have them, but something I do try to do is right before a meet, I literally try and think about nothing,” he said. “It’s hard, but I just try and picture a white blank space and think about literally nothing.”

What is the one thing Martinez would be happy with coming out of Rio?

“Dropping my time, I am a big fan of doing my personal best time, it doesn’t matter what it is, if I do my best time I will be really really happy.”