Thursday, June 28, 2018

Greetings for Italian swimmers

At 11:15am today (5:15am EDT), in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the members of the Italian Swimming Federation.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to Italian swimmers

Dear friends,

I cordially welcome you, with a special thank you to the President of your Federation for his words.

In these days of sports competitions - the Sette Colli Trophy - in addition to technical results, you also offer a testimony of discipline, healthy competition and team play. Show us what goals you can achieve through your commitment to personal training, which involves great effort and even denying yourselves of some pleasures. All this is a lesson in life especially for your peers. Swimming, like any sports activity, if practiced with loyalty, becomes an occasion for training in human and social values, to strengthen - together with the body - also the character and the will, and to learn to know each other and to accept each other.

I would like to insist a bit on this aspect of team building. Of course, swimming is a predominantly individual sport, but in any case practicing it in a sporting society and even at a national level becomes a team experience, in which collaboration and mutual help are very important. And then there are the relays, and there is Water Polo, which is a classic team game. Above all there is Synchronized Swimming, which is really the exaltation of team building: it is all harmony, and excellence is achieved when the athletes move in such a way as to form a single movement. It is really fascinating, and for us ordinary spectators it seems almost impossible; but even there, the secret is helping one another, in addition to individual skill.

Speaking of synchronized swimming, I can not help thinking of Noemi, your companion who tragically died a few days ago, here in Rome. I have prayed for her and her family, and today I remember her together with you.

Dear coaches and athletes, be a good example for your peers, an example that can help them build their future. The language of sport is universal and easily reaches the new generations. So I encourage you to pass on positive messages through your activity; in this way, you will also help to improve the society in which we live.

May the Lord bless you and always give you the joy of competing together, in a spirit of fraternity.

Thank you.

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