Catalina Berraud-Galea keeps an open mind when she receives advice, and she never lets others derail her from pursuing her dreams. Berraud-Galea, a junior and star athlete on Lynn University’s swim team, has her mind set on competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The chance of her making it to the Olympics is high, given her winning track record, competitive spirit and determination. Born and raised in Argentina, Berraud-Galea began taking swimming lessons when she was four years old. “I fell in love with swimming when I started competing at seven,” she said. At 11, Berraud-Galea was competing professionally.
“Some of my friends tried talking me out of swimming professionally,” she added. “They told me swimming is too hard, takes too much time, and I didn’t have a good chance for success.”
Despite their cynical views, Berraud-Galea continued to forge ahead. “Every time I reach a goal, I set a bigger one,” she said. One of her high school goals was to get into a college in the U.S. where she could excel academically and athletically.
“Every time I reach a goal, I set a bigger one.”
“I’m happy I came to Lynn,” she said. “It’s a perfect fit for me, especially since I grew up in a small town. Lynn is like my second family; everyone is caring and supportive.”
When Berraud-Galea, who is majoring in sports management, decided on Lynn, some people doubted whether she could keep up with her studies and swim competitively at the college level.
And despite the waves they made, she continued to prove them wrong. In her three years at Lynn, she has collected numerous medals and honors in U.S. and international competitions in the pool and open water all while maintaining a high grade-point average. Berraud-Galea is one of the top distance swimmers in Argentina and has been among the top 10 distance swimmers in the NCAA Division II.
In March, she received the Elite 90 award for her athletic and academic achievements at the NCAA Division II National Championship. Berraud-Galea is the first swimmer in school history and the fifth Lynn student athlete to receive this prestigious award. “Of all of the honors I’ve earned, I’m most proud of the Elite 90 because it shows I was able to excel as a swimmer and student,” said Berraud-Galea who currently carries a 4.0 grade-point average.
This year, she also won gold in the 1650 and bronze in the 500 freestyle events at the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) and was named All-SSC Second Team. In 2017, Berraud-Galea earned silver in the 1650 freestyle event, and in 2016 took gold in the 1650 and bronze in the 1000 freestyle events. She received All-SSC Honorable Mention in 2017, and was named SSC Freshman of the Year and earned All-SSC Second Team in 2016.
Berraud-Galea is also a three-time NCAA National Championship qualifier, three-time All-America Honorable Mention selection and two-time First Team Scholar All-America.
“Winning at swimming requires a great deal of self-discipline and self-motivation,” said Berraud-Galea whose favorite events are the 1650 and 500 freestyle in the pool and 10-kilometer open water races. Her rigorous workout includes time in the pool as well as weight training. She trains 20 hours per week during the athletic season, which increases to 25 over the summer.
“I am fortunate to have a husband, professors, coaches, teammates and friends who motivate me to do better, and a father and mother who modeled for me the value of hard work,” Berraud-Galea said.
“Swimming has brought me lots of joy, taught me valuable life lessons and given me the opportunity to meet amazing people from around the world,” she added. “I hope my journey gives others, especially my two younger sisters, the inspiration to dream big and do great things.”
And as for those naysayears and wave-makers? “My best advice is to surround yourself with people who will empower you,” said Berraud-Galea. “Stay focused on your goals; practice, practice, practice; keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself.”