Talk about being dedicated, Angelo Russo is a 9-year-old and in the 4th-grade at Penn Forest Elementary School. He loves to his three dogs and to play baseball, but swimming is his passion. And it shows.
Russo began swimming five years ago at the tender age of five. Without knowing how to swim prior to lessons at the Roanoke Valley Aquatic Association (RVAA), Russo picked up on it really fast.
“When I first started and learned how to swim, I didn’t think I’d be that good because I saw how good other people swam. I thought it was highly unlikely, but I did,” Russo said.
He was a natural and is currently ranked 7th in the nation for his age group, 8 and under.
“All of our sons were beating everyone their first year,” Russo’s mother, Lori said. “So, we decided to put them in swimming year round.”
Russo is the youngest of three boys, Dominic and Salvatore, all of whom are swimmers.
Russo swims for two teams throughout the year, including the Hunting Hills Hound dogs and the CCA Marlins. He competes in the butterfly, freestyle, individual (IM) and backstroke.
“My weakness is by breaststroke,” he said.
Lori, his mother said that he also holds most of the 8 and under records.
Russo’s favorite part of swimming is winning, but he takes pride in what motivates him to swim.
“I have people to motivatre me and keem me alive in swimming,” Russo said. “They motivate me to be better and I’m motivated to beat them.”
Russo practices everyday, except on Sunday. He practices about two hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then has land training which includes running, weight ball throwing, and strengthening exercise three days a week. He’s at the pool pretty much everyday.
Once a month his entire family packs their bags for their monthly swim meets. They travel to compete all over Virginia and in January will travel to Atlanta, Georgia for a Top 50 invitational.
But currently Russo’s goal isn’t to beat his swimming opponent, he’s thinking much bigger than that.
“My goal is to beat Michael Phelps,” Russo said. “My dream is to meet Michael Phelps and get his autograph and get him to train me. My only interest is that I can make it to the Olympics. That is what keeps me swimming.”
But just like any competitive athlete, Russo still gets a little bit nervous.
“When I swim, I think about nothing. All I think about is hitting the wall, winning, and getting first. I sahke on the blocks a little bit,” he said.
Nervousness, they say is a good thing. And that seems to hold true for Russo who can’t even begin to count all the ribbons and awards he has received from swimming. He estimated about 200 or 300, which include red ribbons which stand for broken records and Most Valuable Player for 06/06 and 07/08.
Lori is very proud of her son, but says that Russo’s swimming hobby does more than just keep him in shape.
“I’ll tell you what I like about swimming, it gets his energy out and keeps him focused. We call it a way of life. We all go to the meets together. We do it as a family so we can be together. I couldn’t be more proud of Angelo. I’m just glowing.”
Here are some of Angelo Russo’s records:
-50 Freestyle: :29
-50 Butterfly: :32
-100 Butterfly: 1:12
-200 Freestyle: 2:21
-200 IM: 2:41
-100 IM: 1:14
-100 Freestyle: 1:06
-50 Breaststroke: :43
-100 Breaststroke: 1:33