The Venezuelan Olympic Committee has confirmed that Alfonso Mestre, Alberto Mestre Jr., and Jeserik Pinto will represent the country for swimming at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The contingent is one swimmer smaller than the 4-strong roster that represented the country at Rio 2016. Tokyo 2020 will represent all 3 of their Olympic debuts.
According to a press release from the Venezuelan Olympic Committee, Alfonso and Alberto Mestre Jr. will be the 8th set of Venezuelan brothers to represent the country at the Olympic Games. They will be swimming at their first-ever Olympic Games 37 years after their father Alberto Mestre delivered two 5th place finishes in the 100 (50.70) and 200 (1:50.23) freestyles at the 1984 Olympic Games.
Alberto Mestre Jr. qualified when he hit a 21.93 50 freestyle at the recent 2021 Bahamas Aquatics National Championships. Mestre went into the meet with a 22.32 PB and first swam a 22.93 during the heats, followed by a 22.23 and a 22.24 time trial which all trailed the 22.01 FINA A cut. He gave it one last go and swam the 50 freestyle for a 4th time at that meet and managed to crack 22 seconds for the first time with a 21.93. That swim got him under the FINA A, qualifying him for Tokyo and made him the first-ever Venezuelan man to break 22 seconds in the event.
While Alberto made the cut in the 50 free, distance swimmer Alfonso had his eyes on the 800 freestyle FINA A cut at the Caribbean Confederation of Amateur Swimming Championship in Puerto Rico. Alberto actually qualified for the Games in the 800 while swimming in the men’s 1500 free. Instead of trying to hit the 15:00.99 FINA A in the 1500, Mestre decided to record an official split in the 800 in an attempt to hit the 7:54.31 qualification standard. He managed to pull off the feat, beating the mark with a 7:50.81 which was also good enough for a new national record in the event.
Alberto Mestre Jr. discussed what it meant to qualify for the Games alongside his brother;
“My father was the first person I called. After I greeted him, the next thing I heard was my father crying, so that shows the emotion, sacrifices, and pride that my father feels for me, and there is nothing like making your parents proud, there are many ways to make them proud, but I think that today and Wednesday when my brother qualified, have been two days in which our parents have felt happiest for us and for having sacrificed in everything that they do because we sacrifice a lot as swimmers, but they sacrifice much more as parents.”
Brother Alberto also discussed his parents’ reaction to his qualification for Tokyo;
“When I saw my dad and talked to him, he told me that all the hard work of these years has paid off and that this is life, that is, one works hard to see the results and today has been one of my greatest results I’ve had in my life, so I’m super happy and I can’t wait to represent Venezuela at the Olympic Games in Tokyo”
Venezuelan swimming legend and father of the Mestre brothers Alberto Mestre echoed that sentiment after Alfonso qualified for the Games, days before Alberto Jr. also made the team;
“As you can imagine my wife and I feel Super proud of Alfonso to have achieved the A mark to go to Tokyo. Not only was it a great feat but the swim places him among the 10 best in the world this year in that event and we are also waiting with great expectations for Alberto who is in the Bahamas at the moment competing, trying to make his mark A in the 50m freestyle, he has one chance today and two on Saturday, we are up to expectations, but at the same time celebrating the great triumph and achievement of Alfonso”
Joining the Mestre brother on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic swimming roster for Venezuela will be Jeserik Pinto courtesy of her 25.47 in the 50 freestyle and a 1:00.01 in the 100 butterfly. That 50 freestyle swim is under the FINA B standard of 25.51 but her 1:00.01 00 butterfly is a bit slower than the 59.66 cut in that event. Despite the fact that she didn’t quite hit the 100 fly FINA B, the Venezuelan Olympic Committee reported that Pinto was approved by FINA to race both events at the Games.
This will be Pinto’s first Olympic Games and she discussed how it felt to qualify for her first Games at age 31;
¨It is the fight of so many years, it has been my dream since I started swimming when I was 10 years old. What I wanted and what I dreamed was to be in the Olympic Games, I always imagined it and I had them always so close and until this week when I had my tickets in hand, I was doing everything and I still did not believe it. I had not felt complete happiness, today I really do feel Olympic now, I really have a lot of feelings now.”
While this will her first time at the Olympics, Pinto has been racing for Venezuela for a number of years and represented the country more than a decade ago at the 2010 World Short Course Swimming Championships. There, she raced the 50 freestyle (25.83, 36th), 50 backstroke (28.84, 32nd) 100 backstroke (1:02.09, 39th), and 50 butterfly (27.36, 32nd).
Pinto raced for Venezuela before including at the 2017 World Swimming Championships where she placed 39th overall in the women’s 50 free with a 26.19. The next year Pinto swam at the 2018 South American Games and won gold in the women’s 100 butterfly with a 1:00.70 along with a bronze in the women’s 50 and 100 freestyles (25.96/56.66). She also won a silver medal in the women’s 50 butterfly with a 26.76 and set a national record in the heats of the event. Pinto also raced the women’s 50 backstroke there, notching a 28.91 which also stands as the Venezuelan record.