The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2018 includes one of the world’s most dominant professional marathon swimmers in recent times, Pilar Geijo of Argentina who has been competing on the FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series and at the world-class level at the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series since the previous century.
After launching her career in her native Argentina, she first burst upon the international scene at the first FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Honolulu, finishing 12th in the 2000 event. And she still remains competitive 18 years later, most recently finishing 5th in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in 7 hours 58 minutes.
During the 2017 FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series season, Geijo finished 7th in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in 9 hours 8 minutes, 4th in the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada in 7 hours 4 minutes, 5th in the 30 km Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon in Macedonia in 5 hours 48 minutes, and 7th in the 16 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy.
She has completed – and won – several of these FINA events including four titles at the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean (2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015), six titles at the 88 km Maratón Hernandarias-Paraná in Argentina (setting the record in 8 hours 34 minutes), 34 km Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog in Canada, the 15 Copa Del Mundo FINA Maraton De Natacion in Mexico, and the 2016 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy. Overall, she has won 4 career FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix titles (2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015) and finished second in 2009, 2012 and 2016.
She has competed in the 22 km Villa Urquiza-Paraná Grand Prix in Argentina, 15 km Maratón Cozumel in Mexico, 15 km Maratón Acuática Internactional Ciudad de Rosario in Argentina, 15 km Maratón Patagones Viedma in Argentina, 15 km Maratón Cancún, 10 km Abu Dhadi World Cup in United Arab Emirates and many FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup events.
Over her prolific career, she has traveled all over Europe, Oceania, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East representing her home country of Argentina, voted as the 2011 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year and most recently completed a 42.2 km cross-border swim in 9 hours 33 minutes from Uruguay to Argentina across the Río de la Plata in March.
She talked about her long career:
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How does it feel to be inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame – even though you have plenty of swimming left in your career?
Pilar Geijo: When I received a call from Ned Denison, one of the members of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, I couldn’t believe it. It was a big surprise and felt really happy; he was saying to me that I was going to be inducted in one of the places that I have always dreamed to be part of. When I was 16, I visited the International Swimming Hall of Fame with my father after competing in FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Hawaii in 2000. That place really impressed me. It was a big museum with a lot of history. I never forget when I saw a picture of Alfredo Camarero, an Argentinean swimmer who has been my role model. I saw a wall with his pictures and I said to myself, ‘I want to be here sometime.’ So imagine what this honor means to me. I can explain how big this dream was. I wrote a list with all my dreams some time ago. One of those dreams were be part of Hall of Fame. At that time, this seemed impossible for me. But now I am.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was the most satisfying swim of your career?
Pilar Geijo: It is difficult choose only one. I mean all of my races have impacted on me in same way. And I learned from each one of them. But for sure to swim and win the 88 km Maratón Hernandarias-Paraná was amazing. I won six times in a row. Six years in a row, who can I imagine that? Not even me. The longest race was 10 hours 40 minutes. After 6 hours, I feel if I were a fish. I was completing happy, enjoying, swimming fast, singing songs. I think I can reach an special state after some time swimming, a kind of meditation. Also, that race was my first victory in an international race. This race taught me to never give up, and to realized how much powerful and strong mentally I am. I broke all my limits.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was the toughest swim of your career?
Pilar Geijo: I think the toughest races were in lac St-Jean. One edition the wáter was completely cold. It was one of the coldest edition, it was 15°C and 14 swimmers did not finish in that 2011 race. After four hours swimming, I started to feel very cold and maybe the possibility to stop, but I couldn’t believe that I was thinking to stop if I were leading the race. So I imagined if my escort boat sunk in the middle of the lake and I was the only person who could swim to the shoreline and let somebody know about them so they can receive help. This was the story that I created in my mind and this motivation helped me to finish and win the race.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was the closest race that you competed in?
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Can you describe your typical weekly schedule, including your swimming workouts and your dryland training?
Pilar Geijo: I work 10 sessions swimming during a week with an average of 7.5 km per session. Also, three times a week I go to the gym.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Your coach is always at your side during your races. How important is he to your success?
Pilar Geijo: Diego Tricarico has been very important for all my sports career. Definitely all of this could not have been possible without him. He taught me a lot of things and a point of view about life that helps me in my swimming. He taught me that winming was not easy, but it is neither impossible. And he taught me that winming a race is not the most important thing; it is much more important the way and the journey that we venture every day. He helps me to believe in myself and feel very confident.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you have any sponsors?
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are your favorite foods and drinks to take during marathon races?
Pilar Geijo: I love Gatorade, the blue one, Ice Cool. It’s my fav.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What kinds of things do you think about during your marathon races?
Pilar Geijo: Sometimes a lot of things and other times, I think of nothing depending the race and situation.
Besides her motivational speeches and appearances on television and in front of people of all ages, Geijo serves as an Ambassador in Argentina for the World Ocean Day organized by United Nations to raise awareness of marine conservation.
Her name will be inscribed on the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Sea Goddess trophy after her induction ceremony held on March 31st 2018 at The Chapel, Beaumont Estate, Old Windsor, UK.
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