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Paola PEREZ
Sport Open Water Swimming
NOC Venezuela   
GenderWomen
Born05 Apr 1991 in San Cristóbal, VEN
 Human Interest 
Further Personal Information
Family
Partner Hugo
Residence
Santiago, CHI
Occupation
Athlete, Coach
Languages
Spanish
Higher education
Accounting - Catholic University of Tachira: Venezuela
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport?
She began swimming at age three.
Why this sport?
Her parents encouraged her to take up the sport.
General Interest
Awards and honours
In 2016 she received the Tachira State Order for Sports Merit in Venezuela. (tachira.gob.ve, 06 Jan 2017)
Famous relatives
Her sister Silvia is a former swimmer who represented Venezuela between 1999 and 2007. Her mother Flora represented Venezuela in artistic swimming. (Silvia Perez Twitter profile, 17 Jul 2015; lanaciondeportes.com, 17 Dec 2014)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. (Facebook profile, 15 Nov 2021)
Other information
MENTAL HEALTH
She has spoken of her experiences with depression and anxiety during her career, particularly following the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where she suffered from hypothermia. "After Lima I did not want to keep on going. I even thought about committing suicide. But now [speaking in 2021] I feel happy having overcome those dark moments. It was the darkest period in my life and I am not intending to go back there. But it is a reality that exists not only within athletes but in the whole world. Depression and anxiety do exist and everyone deals with it in their own way. I discovered, thanks to support and psychological help, that I was lacking the self-respect to decide what I deserve, what I want and what I need. I cry because it is unavoidable and because nobody else knows what I experienced. And I also cry because I am proud of myself, of who I am now, and what awaits for me in the future." (elnacional.com, 05 Aug 2021)

HYPOTHERMIA
She battled hypothermia in the 10km event at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where she finished in 11th place. She had asked Venezuelan sporting authorities for a neoprene suit, but the one she was given did not meet International Swimming Federation [FINA] regulations, which resulted in her competing in a regular suit not designed for colder waters. "I tried to stay strong. I love the sport and I did not come here to leave without competing. I made it until the sixth lap when I started battling hypothermia. It was cold and I couldn't feel my arms. I started losing consciousness, and I was swimming in a zigzag. I had a headache and nausea. I was only thinking about finishing." (Twitter profile, 09 Aug 2019; aporrea.org, 05 Aug 2018; analitica.com, 05 Aug 2019)

BREAK
She took a break from the sport following the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She returned to the sport in 2018 and relocated to Santiago, Chile, to work under coach Juan Carlos Tenorio. "It was not a retirement but I took a rest. I cleared my mind and relaxed. I think it is necessary to take a break and rest, and start again with encouragement." (aporrea.org, 05 Aug 2018; marcavinotinto.com, 26 Mar 2018)

 Competition Highlights
World Championships
Rank Year Venue Event Result
42 2019 Gwangju, KOR 10km 2:01:29.7
39 2019 Gwangju, KOR 5km 1:01:39.4
19 2019 Gwangju, KOR 5km - Team Relay 59:01.0
39 2015 Kazan, RUS 10km 2:05:31.5
16 2015 Kazan, RUS 5km - Team Time Trial 58:39.3
27 2013 Barcelona, ESP 5km 57:51.5
13 2013 Barcelona, ESP 25km 5:22:40.1
32 2013 Barcelona, ESP 10km 2:00:36.8
World Series
Rank Year Venue Event Result
23 2022 Paris, FRA 10km 2:05:58.18
4 2016 Viedma, ARG 10km 2:06:23
11 2015 San Miguel de Cozumel, MEX 10km 1:48:28.00
31 2013 San Miguel de Cozumel, MEX 10km 2:17:49.40