The Olympic trials may be in May of 2024, but for Gabe Mastromatteo, the training is ongoing to secure a spot at the 33rd Olympiad.
In May, Mastromatteo was named the U Sports Male Athlete of the Year, becoming the first athlete in the water to win the award since 2020, the first male athlete to be recognized in 21 years (2002).
“I was honoured to be nominated,” said Mastromatteo. “When I started the year, I didn’t know that this award existed. [That said] getting the nomination was cool, and going to Calgary was pretty special.”
Mastromatteo, 21, touched the wall first in the 50-meter and 100-meter men’s breaststroke events at the U Sports Championships.
The Kenora native was also the runner-up in the 200 breast and on the Varsity Blues’ 400 medley relay.
Mastromatteo notes the sport of swimming is not a glamourous one, and involves a lot of training in the course of a week.
"You’re in the pool over 20 hours a week,” Mastromatteo added. “You’re also in the weight room for another six [hours]. You’re training every single day, except on Sundays, for over two hours, on top of everything else you are required to do.
"All throughout high school, I would go to practice before and after school. It’s a pretty big mental battle every practice, but I do it to race, and racing is fun so it’s all worth it at the end.”
Mastromatteo placed 38th in the 100 metre breaststroke at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and swam to a seventh place finish in the medley relay.
The Kenora swimmer will also dawn the red and white at the Pan Am Games beginning in October in Santiago, Chile.
Mastromatteo recalls the story of how he ended up with the University of Toronto.
“When I was in high school, I broke my ankle quite bad,” said Mastromatteo. “I came down to Toronto [to get the surgery done], and one of my friends who I swam with was on a recruiting trip at the [University of Toronto]. I just emailed the coach and said ‘Hey, I know you’re running a recruiting trip, do you mind if I drop by?’ and he said ‘yeah, of course’ so that [was the start of the relationship].”
Mastromatteo loves living in downtown Toronto, and continues to study economics and finance. He’s not sure what specifically he would like to do for a career, but is enjoying his time in Ontario’s capital.
The 2024 Summer Olympics will open in Paris, France on July 26th.