Paralympic swimmer qualifies for Olympics from rough in 3 years

A national paralympic swimmer who did not know how to swim until three years ago has reached the level to represent Türkiye in the swimming category at the Paris 2024 Summer Paralympic Games.

Umut Ünlü was born in the eastern province of Van in 2000 as the first child of Turan Ünlü, a construction worker, and Şahiste Ünlü, a housewife, with his limbs conjoined to his body.

Having faced a difficult situation in his childhood due to his condition, Ünlü says his life changed when he started swimming three years ago. When he first jumped into the pool, he did not know how to swim and was far from an athletic physique. Ünlü's coach, Duran Arslan, recognized his talent with the success he achieved a month after he started working with him.

The biggest dream that Ünlü and his coach had together was to participate in the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

He achieved many successes on this journey. In Nov. 2023, he returned from the Para Swimming World Series in Egypt with one gold, one silver and one bronze medal and became the second-best athlete in the world in the 200-meter freestyle category.

The World Para Swimming Federation officially announced Ünlü's Olympic quota.

"There will be a European Championship in Portugal in April. I want to be the European Champion with two medals there. There are six months until the Paralympics. This is enough time for me to improve myself more and gain more experience," he added.

Stating that Ünlü realized a miracle, Arslan said, "When Umut arrived, the only negative was not that he did not know how to swim. He was going through a psychologically challenging period, he was at the bottom. However, he accomplished the near-impossible when he passed the world threshold in the third month of his...

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