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A Mermaid in Berlin: Swimmer Anita Reflects on the World Games 2023

One year on from the World Games in Berlin, Special Olympics Italy swimmer Anita Greco and her family look back on the immense impact the competition has had on their lives. Anita’s story is one of a collection of five videos in which athletes consider the transformative experience of the Games.

The Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, which took place from 17 – 25 June last summer, was the world’s largest inclusive sport event with over 6,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities and 178 delegations coming together to compete in the German capital.

Among those thousands of athletes was Italian swimmer Anita Greco. Her story now forms part of a five-episode video series launched to mark the one-year anniversary of the Games. Anita’s episode was created thanks to funding provided by the European Union (EU).

“Swimming is her Life”

Anita is so in tune with the open water that she calls herself a mermaid. When you watch her swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Como, it is difficult to disagree with that. “I love being here in the open water,” she says. Swimming makes her feel free. “Swimming is her life,” her father, Giuliano states simply. It was this passion for swimming that brought Anita to the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin for a life-changing experience.

Looking back on Berlin, her mother, Elena, shares, “It was the most intense [experience] in her life since the moment she was born.” Her parents were “swept away” by Anita – her performance and her enthusiasm. “She did so well!” Giuliano emotionally exclaims. That emotion wells up in them anytime they recall the magic of Anita at the World Games.

“I was swimming so fast because I wanted to win for you and for the others,” Anita beams as she dedicates her performance to her mother and father.

Woman wearing Special Olympics Italy shirt smiles and showcases bronze medal
The World Games Berlin 2023 were a life-changing experience for Anita

“She Matured so Much”

The experience of the Games was simply transformative, Elena explains, “She matured so much. She feels like she is able to do things on her own now. She came back with great self-confidence”. Anita adds, “Especially being a national athlete means being able to do the same things as other people. This experience has been great and very emotional.” Anita particularly enjoyed the comradery of being a part of the Special Olympics Italy team and getting to know her teammates.

It was also a very proud moment for her coach, Lucia Zulberti, who has been training Anita since she was just 18 months old! “I’ve been following Anita in the water for 18 years,” she says. The effect goes beyond Anita, her family and her coach to the wider community and even the whole country. Lucia says, “In Italy and in her community, Anita has become an ambassador. So that many families can think, ‘If Anita can do it, then my child can too!’”

Anita’s video was funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

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