Noè Ponti – Olympic bronze medallist 2021
Foto: Patrick Kraemer
Noè Ponti – at the age of just 20, the young man has already made a name for himself among the international swimming elite. His greatest achievements? An Olympic bronze medal, a silver medal at the World Championship and numerous Swiss records. Who knows if there won’t be a world record at some point…
How did you find the Olympic Games and the bronze medal? Can you give us an insight into how you were feeling?
The Olympic Games are an athlete’s ultimate goal: they are a swimmer’s lifelong dream, considering the fact that swimming, along with athletics, is deemed a fundamental discipline of the Olympic Games. But also because more nations from all over the world are represented there than anywhere else. When you actually get there, you're totally fired up. Despite several pandemic-related restrictions, I was able to enjoy my life in the Olympic Village where I met many different and interesting people, swimmers and also athletes from other Olympic disciplines. It became clear that my progression in the competitions in Tokyo, culminating in the 100m butterfly medal, put me in a situation I could never have dreamed of before, even though I was aware of my potential. Suddenly you're the centre of attention and live in a kind of bubble: it takes a while to slowly comprehend the magnitude of your achievement. A fantastic feeling but also a situation that is not so easy to manage – one that you have to get used to over the next few weeks with the help of your close environment.
In your opinion, what are the three key factors that made you so strong?
First of all, the environment in which I live and train was important. Having the right feeling about the coaches and a supportive and prepared professional team that you can trust is a prerequisite for being able to train without any worries. This is how you get through and overcome the difficult moments. I am personally fortunate to have the support of two experienced coaches whom I fully trust, a fitness trainer who helped me to develop myself physically in a gradual and proportional manner, a sports physiotherapist who has been looking after me regularly for more than ten years, an osteopath who has been taking care of «my equipment» on a regular basis for a few years, and a sports psychologist who helps me with the mental aspects that are just as important as the physical ones. My team also includes my family: my mum, dad and sister look after me and have always supported and helped me with all aspects of my sports life – not only with my sport itself, but also with organising all the things that go with it.
The second factor that was important in achieving my current level and which will hopefully help me progress further is the constant work during training and the awareness that without this, I would not be able to achieve important goals. I think the consistency of doing very intensive training units with the utmost commitment and a physical and mental capacity for suffering are essential to achieve and stay at the highest level in swimming or any other sport. Owing to the fact that the most important international competitions were suspended for the whole of 2020 due to the pandemic, I arrived at the Olympic Games with one extra year of preparation. Because I was so young, this helped me to develop myself even further.
The third factor that brought me to my current level is a certain natural talent that gives me extraordinary buoyancy and penetration of the water; my height (1.92 m) and overall physique are an advantage. As is my mental attitude, which has proven to be effective in dealing with the stress in training and competitions. But I think all of these «talents» – apart from the fact that they need to be trained – depend entirely on the points already mentioned: the external circumstances, the people who surround you every day and the willingness to suffer during training.
What training tips would you give to an amateur swimmer?
For a young amateur swimmer, I think it's initially important to have fun in what you do, starting with the training units and your interaction with teammates. Then you have to set goals that match your abilities step by step and do everything you can to achieve them. And last but not least, it is important to have a dream, like a lighthouse you can swim to – without forgetting that it must be your own dream and not that of your coach or family. Moreover, the dream should not distract you from the reality of everyday life; but rather be an incentive to train with full commitment.
Can you describe one of your «typical» training weeks?
The type, duration and intensity of the training also depend on the period of preparation during the swimming season. On average, I do about ten training units lasting several hours per week in the water: two every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (morning and afternoon), one on Wednesday afternoon and one on Saturday morning. Then I workout in the gym for at least an hour four times a week on average, usually before getting into the water in the afternoon.
Can you tell us whether you have a «trump card up your sleeve» that you rely on during preparation?
Actually, as is probably the case for all other top athletes, there is nothing «magical» about my preparation. As I said, it depends on the training, consistency, and a certain mental strength. And sometimes you have to take a break so you can devote yourself to other things in order to replenish your mental and physical energy reserves.
We thank Noah Ponti for the exciting responses.
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