Paris 2024: Home is where heart is for Colombia’s Para swimmer Carlos Serrano

Two-time Paralympic swimming champion Carlos Daniel Serrano says he is prepared to make his family happy at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games 06 Jun 2024
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A male Para swimmer competes
Serrano has won seven Paralympic medals across two Games.
ⒸOctavio Passos/Getty Images
By AMP Media | For IPC

There are 160 parks in Bucaramanga, birthplace of Carlos Daniel Serrano, and where the swimmer from Colombia will be based as he counts down to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

As far as Serrano is concerned, there is nothing like home-sweet-home, especially when surrounded by family in La Ciudad Bonita de Colombia (Colombia's Beautiful City).

It is in Bucaramanga where two-time Paralympic champion Serrano can combine the mental challenges of defending his 100m breaststroke titles with the stress-busting treat of teaching his two young children to swim.

Serrano is a two-time Paralympian, having made his debut at Rio 2016. @Octavio Passos/Getty Images

 

Father and champion

His two children - Sara Luna and Daniel Matias Serrano - are the reasons Serrano is so single-minded when it comes to the Paralympic Games.

“Every time I go out, they watch me on TV,” Serrano said. “They don't quite understand yet, but they support me and they have already started swimming.

“My four-year-old daughter already knows how to swim, we're in the process. The boy is three years old, and he is learning. All my achievements are mainly for my two children, Sara Luna and Daniel Matías Serrano, who are the engine of my life, the engine of my sports career.

"Fatherhood has changed me 100 per cent because it changed my mentality. My way of living, sharing. Today, I share a lot with my family, a lot with the children. They don't separate from me.”

Serrano earned four medals, including a gold in the men's 100m breaststroke SB7, at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. @Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

 

Making Paralympic history

Serrano only learned to swim when he was 14. Two years later he was winning three Paralympic medals at Rio 2016. He earned Colombia's first gold medal in 36 years, winning the men’s 100m breaststroke SB7 with a new world record.

Eight years later, he now boasts seven Paralympic medals. Most importantly, he knows what it takes to win and that is to stick with what is familiar.

“My plan from here to Paris is to be with my family, to be at home, to train at my hometown, in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Santander, which is the pool where I have trained from start to finish, which has made me improve, which has made me world champion, Paralympic champion. 

“To be calm, without pressure, knowing that we are doing well and that we are on the right path."

Serrano displays a single-minded determination to repeat his feats of Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 which made history in Colombia. Brazil was life-changing for him and his journey since then has taken him from break-out star to favourite in the 100m breaststroke.

Serrano won Colombia's first Paralympic gold medal in 36 years at Rio 2016. @Simon Bruty/ OIS

Serrano is current world champion in the 100m breaststroke SB8 where he also broke the world record at Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships. He also won three silver and a bronze medal.

“Manchester was a very important championship for my career,” Serrano said. “The positive aspect is that I have competed against other rivals who are a little stronger, but I continue to show we are very good, we do not give up and we were among the best.

“It motivates me a lot, that I have to compete with rivals much stronger. I have to show that we are very strong, that we are among the best and we are, today, first in the world ranking. “

Serrano says his life changed after competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. @Buda Mendes/ Getty Images

 

Focus on Paris 2024

Serrano’s world changed in 2016. As he says, he arrived at the Rio 2016 Paralympics as a young man with little experience but lots of desire.

“And today I am training with much more experience, competitive experience, with much more training, with much more dedication, passion, with a lot of desire to make history with my third Paralympic gold medal. It's the dream, the goal, the purpose."

The dream, the goal, the purpose may drive on Serrano.  But he also still has time to relish his accomplishments.

Serrano says he is "physically prepared" to compete at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. @Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

At the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games he won four gold medals and a silver and describes the event as ‘spectacular’.

“They were my third Parapan American Games. I arrived with much more experience, I enjoyed it a lot. I already go to competitions to enjoy myself, to have a great a time.”

When there is some down time Serrano plays video games and he is also studying sport training at university. “I have a special room where I distract myself a lot playing on the computer. I have a car simulation,” Serrano says.

And to any of Serrano’s rivals think he might be too cosy in his home environment, there is only one answer.

"Well, I want to tell you that Carlos Daniel Serrano feels very good, physically prepared. He trains very hard from Monday to Saturday with double sessions, from seven in the morning to nine and from two in the afternoon to four or five in the evening every day. 

“So, the truth is we are preparing very well, very strong. I am in good health, physically in my best condition and eager to achieve the goal of being in Paris."
 

Book your tickets for the Paralympic Games by visiting the Paris 2024 ticketing website