Senior psychology major and Venezuela native Franco Lupoli is thrilled to spend his last year at NSU. Last year was a great one for Lupoli, who claimed the Sunshine State Conference Championship along with his team, and the men’s 1000-yard freestyle NCAA National Championship. Motivated and driven by his coach, Lupoli is excited to find out what this year has in store.
When did you start swimming?
“When I was 5 years old because there was a possibility of me having asthma and [doctors] said that swimming could be an opportunity to roll that out. It started like that, and then it was kind of an activity for me after school. In school, they had it as a sport, so I did it as a sport.”
When did you move to the States?
“When I was 16 years old my parents decided to move here for better opportunities, for a better lifestyle and better opportunities for me to go to school. The plan was for us to get a better lifestyle and ideally to get a scholarship for swimming since it was my passion.”
How old were you when you discovered swimming as your passion?
“When I was 13 years old I used to play basketball, as well, and it was getting serious between swimming and basketball. I decided swimming… and decided to be more serious. When I was 14, I started the swimming club and started going to national competitions. When I was 16 we moved here, I started practicing in this pool [at NSU], so I have been here since I moved.”
You transferred to NSU in your junior year. Where did you go previously?
“When I graduated [from high school], I took a year off to focus on my swimming, to develop the swimming career and improve my English. In 2013 I went to Florida Southern for a year [and] I swam for them. In reality, I could not afford to stay there. Even though I was nationally ranked, they decided to not increase my scholarship as much, so it wasn’t a reality for me to stay there. My family could not support me that much. I came back here [locally] and started at Broward College. I did two years because there is a rule that I could not transfer within conference so I had to sit out for two years. I sat for two years, I developed my grades and my swimming, and when I had the opportunity I came back to DII, to the Sunshine State Conference, which is where I wanted to be, in a beautiful campus.”
How would you describe the experience of getting back into collegiate competitions?
“It was a different experience from my freshman year, coming in as a junior of course, but [also] the team environment, the coach relationship, the athletic department, everyone is unique. That uniqueness [and] support, that we as athletes have here at Nova Southeastern University is incomparable across Division II and I would say is better than some Division I schools.”
What is your favorite aspect of being a Shark?
Definitely the environment as an athlete. Students have a great environment on campus… I enjoy the student part, but I would say that the environment of being part of the Shark family, being an actual Shark and going to the games. People come to the competitions, [and] all the cheering, all the support, is unmeasurable. It gives me chills even right now. It’s super exciting.”
You claimed the title for Men’s 1000-yard Freestyle at the NCAA Division Championship last year, how would you describe that achievement in a few words?
“Thrilling. It was so exciting to be able to be back. It was mixed feelings. I did not let my feelings catch up to me, I was there for a reason and I was there to do something, and I did it. Even though I did perform well, I fell short on a couple other races. It’s nothing to be sad about, but [something] to consider and look on what details can we improve for this year, since we have another opportunity to be better than last year.”
What role does your coach play in your life?
“I would say that he affects my performance directly. I have high belief in whatever he drives me through; he is the mind behind everything. Not only that, he also has influenced me to be better, to reach higher levels of standards outside the pool; in the classroom, in my personal life. I feel that [he] not only [does it] for me but for everyone on the team. He found a way to bring everyone together. Every individual that may be different in several aspects, he found a way of connecting all of us, to put us together to race together, and do very good at the end of the season.”
Did you ever dream of being a National Champion when you were a kid?
“Since I was eight or nine, I always wanted to be a champion but I didn’t know what of. I always wanted to race. I may not like to lose but I love to win… I became age group National Champion in Venezuela, but that wasn’t enough; then Open National Champion, that wasn’t enough; I knew there was more. I had the opportunity here of being National Champion; I achieved that, and my goals [don’t stop there]. I still have higher standards that I wish to accomplish, and I intend to pursue those goals. It doesn’t stop even after I graduate, I do intend to continue swimming to the best of my ability. In swimming, the highest goal is to go to the Olympics. I’ve gone through an Olympic cycle and I didn’t manage to get my hands into the National Team, but I have another opportunity, still being young within the range of age, and I am positive that I will take on another cycle and see how I can perform.”
What are your plans after graduation?
“I would like to go to grad school. I think that swimming has given me a lot, and I would like to give back not only to swimming but if I were able to give back to NSU, for the opportunity that they have given me, I would like to help.”