Adriel Sanes will represent the U.S. Virgin Islands in the men’s 200 breaststroke this month at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Olympic Games were delayed for one year but will have the opening ceremony on July 23 at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.
Sanes qualified for the competition with his own record-breaking time of 2:12.59 at the 2021 Swimming Union of the Americas Tokyo Qualifier meet in Clermont, Florida. He has been a part of the USVI National Swim Team since the age of 12 and is eager to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympics.
“With that record-breaking time that I did, it’s not too far off of what could possibly make semi-finals at the Olympics, so ever since I’ve made that time, I’ve had that personal goal of wanting to make semi-finals at Tokyo.”
Sanes was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and raised in St. Croix. He attended the Church of God Holiness Academy and Good Hope School. His parents are Noel Sanes and Francis Sanes.
Growing up, Sanes played many sports, including basketball, cross country, track, karate, and soccer. However, swimming and cross country were his focus.
“I’ve been swimming since I moved down to the Virgin Islands, at six and a half years old. My mom decided to enroll me in swim lessons,” Sanes said. “I quickly advanced in the groups. I learned fast and stuck with it, and I made the national team, and there goes history. I did everything, but as I grew older, I really only focused on swimming and cross country/track. I’ve been doing those two sports my whole life. But I could only go to college for one sport, and I went for swimming. I knew I was going to focus more on swimming from a young age but I just did running because I was good at it [and] it did pair well with swimming.”
When asked how he feels about having the opportunity to compete at the Olympics, Sanes said, “I’m very excited. It’s been a lifelong goal of mine.”
Before competing, the young athlete says he likes to “jump up and down a bit” to get his heart rate up and listen to “pump-up” music. In his spare time, he likes to watch superhero movies and shows, do puzzles with his girlfriend, hike, and climb mountains. He also enjoys hanging out with his friends.
When asked if he’s had to make sacrifices to be able to compete at the Olympics, the future Olympian said, “Absolutely, one-hundred percent. You can ask any Olympian. I’ve had to sacrifice time with family, hanging out with friends. You can miss out on some great times but in the end it’s all worth it. And I can say right now, it’s worth what I sacrificed. I don’t think I would’ve been where I was if I didn’t make these sacrifices.”
Sanes said he would like to “thank my parents, my coaches that I’ve had all these years, in Houston, in St. Croix, Brian Brady, Todge Schmitz, the Olympic Committee, V.I. Swimming Federation, my aunt Michele Sanes, and all my family and friends down in St. Croix. There’s a lot of people that I got to thank.”
Sanes graduated in May from the University of Denver with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and will attend Auburn University in the fall to get a master’s in engineering management.
Sanes is one of four athletes who will represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at the Olympics this year. Due to the various points of departure and returns for the USVI Olympic Committee’s delegation, an official send-off and return will not be conducted this year. For more information on the USVI Olympic Committee’s delegation, click here.