Claire Supiot walks into the light, leaning on a cane, wet hair and a smile on her lips. It is 8:30 am, she finishes with two hours of training. At the entrance to the Jean-Bouin swimming pool in Angers, the teenagers who run into the locker rooms pay little attention to him. However, it is there, in the pools where they will snort, that the 2018 European champion in the 50m freestyle has been preparing for many months to compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which open on August 24. .
At 53, she is the first French athlete – men and women alike – to compete in the Paralympic Games after experiencing Olympic Games fever. She participated in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul at the age of 20. She was eliminated in the 200m butterfly heats. At the time, the nine-time French champion in the discipline did not even dream of a podium or a medal, just to participate in this global event. This year, it’s different: the oldest of the French para swimming team is going to Japan aiming for a podium. She will be on the starting block of the 100m and 400m freestyle, the 200m medley and the 100m butterfly.
An incredible revenge on life for Claire Supiot, who has been fighting Charcot-Marie Tooth disease for thirteen years. Before her, this hereditary neuromuscular disease had affected her father, an uncle and one of her aunts. For Claire Supiot, a lifeguard by profession, a somewhat strange fall followed by a broken foot sounded the first alert, in 2008, while she was leading a training session.
Water, its element
The disease progressed, Claire could no longer lift her legs. He quickly had to use shoes with jacks, with a system under the sole that helps to lift the foot. Thanks to the rehabilitation, she finally put them away in favor of a cane, and now composes with the occasional support of “Lulu”, her electric chair. But in the water, it’s different. “I turn my arms like everyone else, I use my legs a little less but I do the medley. I no longer do scissors in breaststroke and, in butterfly, the wave remains natural and pretty, it is just less effective. ”
Swimming, she did not really resume until 2015, against all odds. All it took was an aquagym session, offered by Annick, her neighbor and friend from Juigné-sur-Loire, where she lives. She immediately realized the benefits of Archimedes’ push on her body. “It did me good to be carried by the water, to reclaim my body. I just wanted to be in good shape. But that was not enough for me. ”
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