Alice Tai: “Lignano, a small Paralympics”
Impossible not to notice it. Out of the water, unique in its way of taking life never too seriously and in its smile. In water, unique in going strong. Alice Tai is one of the stars of the English Paralympic swimming team: at the World Championships in London she made medals, just a few months ago she was named Paralympic Athlete of the year by the prestigious Sunday Times. And it will be one of the stars that, from February 27th to March 1st, will animate the Lignano World Series.
We had a talk with her. Enjoyable.
A very busy season is about to start: the European championships, the Tokyo Paralympics. What did you write in the letter to Santa Claus for 2020?
In 2020 I’m hoping to just keep getting faster and faster, hopefully I will have a good block of training and I can perform at my best at the Europeans and in Tokyo (Tokyo being the main focus of course!). I would also like for my university exams to go well and that I don’t get too stressed!
In 2020, also the Lignano World Series. How important will the appointment in Italy be?
The competition in Lignano is a great way to start international racing in 2020, I also get to race Xenia Palazzo who will be a main rival of mine at Europeans and in Tokyo.
What’s so special about Lignano?
I love the little village where all the staff and athletes stay and that it’s sort of like a mini Paralympic Games, having the beach nearby is also a really nice feature. I grew up by the sea and now that I live in London I miss it quite a lot so being able to have the sea so close is lovely.
The Italian national team beat everyone at his World Cup in London: did you expect such a result?
I think it was a surprise for the rest of the world because Italy have never won a medal table! They proved everyone wrong! This year, I had the opportunity to get to know some of the Italian swimmers so I knew how strong the team was going into the world championships and I’m really happy they were so successful in London!
In your opinion, how did they become so strong?
The main thing I saw in the Italian team was that every member was extremely passionate about the sport and the team’s success, it was great to see such a fun atmosphere! Since London 2012, Italy has been getting stronger and stronger in Para-Swimming and it’s great to see how much they’ve grown. An important part of being the most successful team is also having great athletes, something that they also have!
Looking back, what was the best victory?
For me, the victory I’m most happy with is the 400m freestyle, it is the hardest race for me so to have come away with a gold and the fastest time I’ve done since 2014 means a lot to me. In terms of the whole competition, my favourite overall victory/race has to be the Mens S9 100m butterfly when Simone Barlaam and Federico Morlacchi both won, it was absolutely insane, I couldn’t stop smiling!
Let’s talk about Alice: when did you start swimming, and why?
I started swimming when I was very young for two reasons: I lived near the sea and my parents wanted me to be safe and for rehabilitation. Up until the age of 12 I had endured 14 major operations and a lot of the time I wasn’t allowed to put pressure through my legs after. I did a lot of hydro-therapy the help stay active. I joined a swimming club in 2009 and then got classified in 2010. From there it all went crazy and I ended up at a Paralympics…
What is water for Alice?
For me the water is like freedom, I don’t have to think about things that I can’t do but, instead, all the things that I can do. I love how it has introduced me to some amazing people and given me amazing opportunities in my life. Water is obviously something we need to sustain life but I think, for me, it is that but literally and metaphorically.
We know you love Italy a lot: tell us three things you like about our country.
The food here tastes incredible! I love the language (I’m not fluent yet but getting there!). The people: my first trip to Italy was in January of 2019 and I met some people here who have influenced my life in a massively positive way.
The favourite dish, the song, the most beautiful book ever read.
Dish: I’m obsessed with apple pies, also anything with broccoli in. Song: Currently I like ‘Adore You’ by Harry Styles, but ‘In The Mood’ by Glenn Miller is also a favourite of mine. Book: I haven’t read much lately but I just stared again, currently I’m reading ‘Big sister, Little sister, Red sister’ by Jung Chang. It’s about three women (sisters) in twentieth century china. It’s very interesting.
The most important person in your life.
Right now probably my swimming coach, Dave. He’s always there to help me and helps me improve.
Greet all the Italian fans, and give them an appointment in Lignano!
Hi everyone! Firstly, thanks fo reading this interview! In February next year I will be in Lignano competing at the World Para Swimming Series, along side some of the best athletes in the world! It’s going to be a great event and I can’t wait to be back at the pool there, ready to race!