Imagen
31021-Alex Portal photo

Alex Portal

Swimming

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Vision impairment
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S13, SB13, SM13

Further personal information

Occupation
Athlete, Student
Languages
English, French, Spanish
Higher education
Chemistry, Physics - CY Cergy Paris University: France

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He took up the sport at age five at the CN Pecq swimming club, where his grandmother served as president, in Yvelines, France. He began competing at age seven with the Cercle des Nageurs de l'Ouest club. "I always swam with able-bodied children. It was my coach, Guillaume Benoist, who informed me in 2016 that I was eligible to compete in Para swimming."
Why this sport?
"I had tested several sports like judo, tennis or horseback riding before. Swimming was the one I liked the most right away. I really enjoyed the feeling of being in the water. I also enjoyed the training and so I stayed in this sport."
Club / Team
Cercle des Nageurs de l'Ouest [CNO]: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, FRA
Name of coach
Guillaume Benoist [club]
Training Regime
He has 10 training sessions in the water each week. He also sees a sports psychologist once every three weeks to work on breathing and visualisation exercises. "We visualise the race to make the brain and neurons work. The more this is done before, the smoother the path during the race."

International debut

Year
2016
Competing for
France

General interest

Hobbies
Running, reading comic books. (cyu.fr, 04 Jan 2021)
Memorable sporting achievement
Beating the world record in the S13 800m freestyle at the 2017 World Series event in Berlin, Germany. (Athlete, 13 Aug 2018)
Most influential person in career
His family, coach Guillaume Benoist and his swimming friends. (Athlete, 13 Aug 2018)
Hero / Idol
US swimmer Michael Phelps, French swimmer Jeremy Stravius. (mytvchain.com, 04 Dec 2019; Athlete, 13 Aug 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Believe in your dreams and they may become true; believe in yourself and they will surely become true." [Martin Luther King Jr.] (ffnatation.fr, 10 Sep 2021)
Awards and honours
He was named the 2018 Parasport Male Hope of the Year in the Ile-de-France region of France. (actu.fr, 11 Jan 2019)
Famous relatives
His younger brother Kylian Portal represented France in Para swimming at the 2021 European Championships in Madeira, Portugal. (SportsDeskOnline, 13 May 2022; leparisien.fr, 15 Dec 2020)
Ambitions
To compete alongside his brother Kylian and win a medal at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. (ffnatation.fr, 10 Sep 2021)
Impairment
He was born with ocular albinism and has a vision impairment. "I lack pigmentation in my retina and have nystagmus which means my eyes move involuntarily and I have trouble focusing on objects. It is a genetic condition. In my family we are four children, three boys and a girl, but only me and my brother [Kylian] are affected." (openswimstars.com, 26 Nov 2020)
Other information
BALANCING SPORT AND STUDIES
He studied chemistry and physics at CY Cergy Paris University with a plan to move into engineering school after. He says balancing his studies and training can be difficult at times. "There is some flexibility, for example I have the right not to attend classes on Wednesday afternoons when I am in training. I warn teachers in advance if I need to be absent, especially for competitions, and I can ask for special permission if I cannot be present for an exam. For revision, it's a little harder to catch up, but thanks to the flexibilities allowed by the university I am able to catch up. Swimming training takes a lot of time but it is a choice that I made. The dual project of sport and studies is close to my heart, I want to have the freedom to swim and at the same time not to give up my studies. After my studies, I would like to become an engineer in the renewable energies sector." (cyu.fr, 04 Jan 2021; openswimstars.com, 26 Nov 2020)

BROTHERLY LOVE
His younger brother Kylian has the same impairment and is also a competitive Para swimmer. He is hopeful that they will both qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. "I want to train him behind me. Both of us at the Paralympic Games in Paris would be my biggest dream." (leparisien.fr, 15 Dec 2020)