Madeira 2023: Olympian Vânia Neves celebrates “special” European titles in home waters

By Nick Hope
Aquatics Correspondent in Madeira

Portuguese Olympian Vânia Neves dedicated her European Masters titles to the young swimmers she now coaches, saying they prove “anything is possible if you work for it.”

The 33-year-old, who competed in the 10km event at Rio 2016, won the 800m freestyle title on Sunday; the opening day of competition in Madeira, Portugal.

She had been due to race in the 1.5km open water race, but organisers were forced to postpone the event due to adverse weather conditions.

Undeterred, the swimmer accepted the offer of a place in the 200m freestyle event back in the pool later that afternoon, which officials granted to those impacted by the open water programme alteration.

Neves was again a class apart, finishing in two minutes and 12.16 seconds, which was over 10 secs clear of her nearest rival.

“It was really nice (to win) as this is my first Europeans and it’s more special as it’s in Portugal,” she told European Aquatics after her collecting her second gold.

“The main goal of this is to teach (my swimmers), how to organise their life; I think I’m a better person and professional because of my swimming life.

Neves was full of praise for the organisation of the event and hopes the successful start to the first-ever European Masters Short Course Swimming Championships encourages more people to take part in the discipline.

“The spirit is amazing, as well as the atmosphere and of course the pool here,” she says.

“You can compete with a different spirit, almost no stress and look around, everyone is happy and enjoying it, which is really important to a swimmer.”

Other highlights on the second day of competition included two 50m breaststroke World records – Petra Weber (30.96 secs in the women’s 35-39 age-group) and Filippo Magnini (27.68 in the men’s 40-44 age-group) – as well as five European records.

To follow racing at Madeira 2023 live, CLICK HERE.

To read all of the latest results, as well as start lists, CLICK HERE.

To read a statement relating to the rescheduling of the 1.5km open water race, please FOLLOW THIS LINK.