Beryl Gastaldello has had a whirlwind year, both in and out of the pool. Ironically, her best year in the pool was her worst year out of the pool. But once she explains the ins and outs, it makes sense why that was, and why one perhaps followed the other.
The last time we spoke with Gastaldello was at the Art Adamson invite in November 2017. She had just anchored the Texas A&M women to victory in the 4×100 medley relay against Stanford, a victory in which Beryl notably came from behind and ran down Katie Ledecky on the anchor leg. Immediately after that meet, she was struck with both physical and mental ailments, so much so that she says she couldn’t sit still and had a variety of ticks that she couldn’t control. Gastaldello went home to France to seek treatment, and she was notably absent from any spring dual meets as well as the SEC Championships, which the Aggies hosted. However, Beryl made her return to competition shortly after at the College Station sectionals, and competed for her team at the 2018 NCAA championships, the last meet of her senior season. At NCAA’s in Columbus, Ohio, Gastaldello went best times in the 50 and 100 freestyle, breaking 47 seconds in the 100 for the first time.
After NCAA’s, her summer included signing a deal with TYR, breaking a national record in the 50m backstroke at French Nationals, and anchoring France’s 4×100 free relay to becoming European champions. She spoke with the French News at French nationals about how she had handled her health issues, and at the time had only been back in the water for 6 days, after taking another extended break from swimming post NCAA’s.
In the time between the 2017 Art Adamson Invite and 2018 NCAA’s, Gastaldello said she had to figure out a lot of things about herself, and make a significant amount of changes. As noted above, she took a long time out of the pool before NCAA’s as well as after. She stopped lifting with the A&M team and made her own lifting and dryland regiment. She picked up drumming and skateboarding as hobbies, citing a need to focus her energies on other things aside from just studying, eating, sleeping, and swimming. She found medication that helped her with her depression and anxiety. And she started training with the A&M men, where she can focus more on sprint oriented training. Gastaldello noted “I’m just like a guy, basically, in the body of a woman” and that she enjoys the mentality of the men’s training environment. Beryl finished by saying she likes the fact that training with the men means that they are almost always ahead of her, so she’s always pushing herself to get past them.