April 23, 2014
Damián Blaum, World Champion FINA Open Water 2013Tuesday, February 4, 2014
‘I like to battle it out against nature’
Born: June 11, 1981
Education: Studying for a degree in marketing
Last book read: Brújulas que buscan sonrisas perdidas by Albert Espinosa
Newspaper: None in particular, likes to read everything
Achievements: World Champion FINA Open Water 2013; No.1 in the FINA ranking.
After becoming the world champion in open waters last year and reaching the number one spot in the ranking, Damián Blaum’s new aim is to enjoy the sport and think more about his future. He is studying toward a degree in marketing and wants to link it with sports. Blaum says he’d also like to work in policy making to help the sportsmen and women who are just starting their careers.
What is it that you enjoy the most in a competition?
There are a lot of things. I like to compete in open waters because it’s not like a swimming pool where you follow a line and compete against a timer. In open waters you battle it out against nature and a lot of opponents. Also, I have the possibility to travel to different parts of the world with my wife and friends. To go all over these nice — and not so nice — places thanks to sport is what I like most.
Is it difficult getting used to constantly travelling?
I’ve always liked to travel. However, sometimes you get tired of airports and the many things that didn’t exist years ago. To wait in line for the passports, for example. But honestly, I really like travelling.
Any place in particular?
There are lots of places I like. I’ve always said that my favourite city in the world, besides Buenos Aires, is Barcelona. But also I like to compete in Canada because it has an attractive landscape. I think that every place has something that sets it apart.
Your wife (Esther Núñez of Spain) is also a swimmer. How did you meet her?
I met her competing. She came to Argentina for the first time in 2004. We didn’t have much contact until 2006, when we started dating. And in 2010 we got married. We do the same thing, while she represents Spain and I represent Argentina.
Do you always travel together?
Whenever we can, yes. In fact, now we can choose the races and we try to travel together. If she competes for Spain in a European championship or if I do it for Argentina in a South American competition, we don’t travel together. The races for men and women are the same in the world circuit, so we enjoy that a lot.
When you are not in the country, are you aware of what is going on in Argentina?
I always try to inform myself. Besides, I’m always in touch with my parents and friends, and they tell me everything. I also use the Internet to read and keep myself up to date.
Are you interested in politics?
Yes... well, I don’t dislike it. Many times I get tired of different situations. I’m interested in seeing the country do OK.
And what about sports?
I like soccer, tennis and also the amateur sports. I compete in an amateur sport so I support every Argentine sportsperson around the world.
Which soccer team do you support?
What do you think about the club nowadays?
I hope the club will change with the arrival of the new president and become what it used to be in the 1980s and 1990s. And also to put the last years behind it.
Do you trust Coach Ramón Díaz can turn the club around in this less than fortunate context?
I’m not a coach supporter, I’m a club fan. I know that Ramón Díaz won everything there was and has a lot of experience, but I don’t like River’s playing style now. I don’t play down anything, I want to see River as a victor, and if it does it with Ramón, I’m going to be happy.
Do you practice any other sport?
I don’t have the time. I would love to play soccer with my friends, but I have to take care of myself.
Why did you choose to study marketing?
I’ve always liked it. In fact, I would like to link it with sports at some point and work in sports marketing. I’m reading La pasión deportiva del marketing by Guillermo Riscaldoni which is very interesting and I like it a lot.
Will it take you long to finish your studies?
Yes. It was very complicated when I started to travel. I left school and missed a lot of classes. But now I’ve decided to start again at Siglo 21 University, where they accepted some of the classes I took before. The idea is to keep studying and to not drop the habit. In the future, when I decide to stop swimming, I will try to finish school.
How do you find time to study?
The truth is that I didn’t compete these last two months and I didn’t travel, so I passed all the subjects I had. In the future, with travelling and everything, I don’t know how I’m going to handle it. Luckily, I have the support of my wife and that helps me a lot. We will see when I compete again in March, in Mexico and then Spain. I think that with studying, reading and traveling all around the world I’m growing as a person and that’s important.
Did you go to classes during the last two months that you did not compete?
Now at Siglo 21 I do something called distributed education. I attend ‘tele-classe.’ But I personally went to the university and took the tests.
Is it strange going to ‘teleclasses?’
Yes, it is. Honestly, I prefer to ask the professors lots of questions in person. When I went for my first test I felt lost, I didn’t know if I was going to get used to the system. But it’s very useful for people who work a lot and don’t have much time. I have three subjects in a two-month period, with two tests and four coursework, and I have to pass at least three of them.
After becoming world champion and being No. 1 in the ranking, what is your aim?
Now my biggest aim is to enjoy things. I don’t want to put more pressure on myself and I want to enjoy each and every day, every moment of every race and the people around me. I might still be able to get good results this way.
Do you have any plans to combine marketing and sports in the future?
I don’t have a specific plan, but I would like to make a contribution to sports. I would like to work in the policy making in order to help sportsmen who are starting their careers, so they don’t suffer some things which — unfortunately — some of them do. And I would also like to make sports more powerful in our country.
What kind of things do young sportspeople suffer?
Specifically, sportsmen need contention and the financial support to travel and compete. I think there are so many things that could be improved. Although so much got better with the ENARD (National Board of High Performance Sports), there’s still a lot of room for improvement in terms of supporting sportspeople.