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Naples, Amalfi, & Capri

Once in a while, during my busy competitive swimming schedule I get to enjoy the waters outside the pool, like along the beautiful Italian coast.

The International Swimming League (ISL) is the first of its kind in the sport of swimming. Similar to the NFL and NBA, top swimmers from around the world were drafted to one of ten teams to compete in a professional swimming league. I, along with 30 other swimmers from 10 different countries, were drafted to the Toronto Titans.

One season, all of the ‘regular season’ meets took place in Naples, Italy. It lasted six weeks with eight 2-day competitions all held in the Piscina Felice Scandone pool. This pool has held countless Italian National championships and the 2019 World University Games – it has had seen plenty of fast swimming in the past and was about to hold an incredibly fast 6 weeks.

Now, all this fast swimming and fierce competition didn’t stop us from enjoying what the local towns, restaurants, and beaches had to offer. Swimmers work really, really hard, so a little R&R goes a long way. Besides, how often do you get to spend six whole weeks in Italy?

Naples is the 3rd largest city in Italy, a lively and vibrant city that never sleeps! Despite the hustle and bustle of traffic and motorcyclists driving on sidewalks, Naples has its own charm that captivates you. From the stunning coastal views at Chiaia, the downtown community, with giant rocks lining the shore and waves from cruise ships and private boats to the crowds of tourists that fill the cafes and small streets, there is always something to see everywhere you look. People often suntan on the big rocks because the closest sandy beach is a 45-minute train ride away. And let’s not forget the random fireworks that light up the sky in the middle of the night, adding to the excitement and energy of this beautiful city. Whether you want to soak up the sun on the big rocks or explore the narrow streets, Naples has something for everyone.

On our days off from racing and training, we would make the trek and spend day trips in Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Sorento. Renting boats was the fastest way to travel to the next coastal city, so groups of 10 of us would spend the day together out on the water. The freshest seafood from restaurants that were carved into mountainsides, the bluest water to snorkel in, and the most picturesque beaches cover the coastline of this glorious, southern Italian region. It truly felt and looked like it was straight out of a movie. Amalfi Coast and Capri were, by far, two of the most stunning places I have ever travelled to.

For six weeks straight, we only ate the most delicious pizza, homemade style pastas, and the freshest seafood. I was in foodie heaven! Neapolitan pizza was invented in Naples over 100 years ago, so you are really able to taste the authentic history of the city. There is an iconic scene in the movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ filmed in Naples, eating a Neapolitan pizza at the world-renowned restaurant L’Antica Pizzaria da Michele. I would have loved to have eaten there, as it was only a few blocks from our hotel however, the lineups last for hours at any given time of the day.

I am beyond lucky to be able to travel the world, meet the most amazing people, and eat the most delicious food, all while doing my job. The swimming here was probably the most fun I have ever had in my life. Swimmers were going best times, breaking National and World records left, right, and center, and everyone was having the best time doing it. It is really true when they say, ‘a happy swimmer is a fast swimmer’. These meets were high energy, they had crazy light shows before every race, a live DJ right on the pool deck, and stands full of spectators that pumped up the energy the whole time. It was an incredible theatrical production contributing to the energy of the swimmers while highlighting all the hard work all of us had done to get to this point. An amazing experience I’ll never forget.

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