AP Photos: Unlikely Haitian Olympian aims at swimming medal
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — It’s been nearly 90 years since Haiti earned a medal at the Olympic Games. But swimmer Frantz Mike Itelord Dorsainvil is aiming to break that dry spell.
The lanky 25-year-old swimmer who only began to swim competitively six years ago is arguably the most unlikely Olympian on Haiti’s small team. But he doesn’t lack for confidence.
“I will be giving all my effort to make sure I bring back a medal for my homeland,” Dorsainvil said after a recent day of training.
The swimmer, who has never lived abroad — unlike many athletes who typically represent the impoverished Caribbean country — trains in an 18-meter long pool. An Olympic-sized pool is 50 meters.
“I have to do six laps just to make 100 meters. I go back and forth, back and forth,” he laughed during a phone interview from the pool in Carrefour on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince.
Swimming barely exists as a sport in Haiti, where there are few pools. Many Haitians, even some who fish for a living, never learn how to swim.
Dorsainvil is hoping to change all that.
He says he’s hopeful that the sport will take off in his Caribbean homeland if he and his teammate, 19-year-old Haitian-American Naomy Grand’Pierre, are able to win a medal. Grand’Pierre is a student at the University of Chicago and will be Haiti’s first Olympic female swimmer.
“I hope we can help make swimming popular here. It’s disappointing that so many Haitian people are not able to swim,” Dorsainvil said.