By Robin Gomes
“Like any sporting activity, if practiced with loyalty, swimming becomes an opportunity for formation in human and social values, to strengthen the body together with character and will power and to learn how to know and accept each other as companions.”
Pope Francis made the observation on to a delegation of some 300 Italian and international swimmers who are participating in the 55th international Settecolli Trophy in Rome from June 29 to July 1.
He noted that apart from achieving technical results, swimmers also offer a testimony of discipline, healthy competition and teamwork. They demonstrate that goals can be reached through training efforts, that call for great commitment and also sacrifices. “All of this,” the Pope said, “is a lesson in life especially for your peers.”
Swimming is predominantly an individual sport, the Pope said, but it also involves “teamwork”, because swimmers train in a sports club and at the national level where collaboration and mutual help are very important. Events such as relays and water polo are team sports.
Describing synchronized swimming as “truly the exaltation of teamwork” the Pope said it is “all harmony in which excellence is achieved” with swimmers moving in a way to form a single movement.” It's really fascinating, and for us ordinary spectators it seems almost impossible, but, the Pope said, the secret lies mutual help in addition to individual skill.
In this regard, the Holy Father recalled Noemi Carrozza, the 20-year old star of the women’s synchronized swimming team of Italy who died in a road accident in Rome on June 15. The Pope said he prayed for her and her family.
Sending positive messages
Stressing that the language of sports is universal and easily reaches new generations, Pope Francis encouraged the swimmers to “send positive messages” through their activity, thus “contributing to improving the society in which we live.”