Italian import breaks NED swim records

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Northeast Dubois High School junior Lorenzo Vaiardi swims butterfly during practice at the school in Dubois on Thursday. Vaiardi recently broke school records in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.


DUBOIS — Northeast Dubois sophomore swimmer Dakota Roach said the team stood in Lorenzo Vaiardi’s lane and chanted, “New school record,” three times Nov. 26 at Salem. Dakota said the whole team congratulated him afterward, but added Lorenzo knew he was going to get his name in the record book before the meet even started.

Lorenzo swam a time of 2:04.53 in the 200 Individual medley, breaking Cole Witte’s old 2009 record of 2:12.38. But he wasn’t done rewriting the record books that night. His time of 1:01.92 in the 100 breaststroke gave him a second school record that evening, surpassing Tyler Armstrong’s previous 2010 feat of 1:07.36.

Lorenzo is not satisfied with just two records. He’s hoping to break more.

“My objective for the middle of the season is to be at five records, and now I’m at two,” Lorenzo said. “We’ll see what I can do.”

Another record that could be in his reach is the 200 freestyle, and it could be broken as soon he gets into his home pool Monday against Southridge and Tecumseh.

The junior has done a lot of work in the pool to get to this point, and has also traveled a lot of miles to make it happen.

Lorenzo is a foreign exchange student from Latina, Italy, which is just more than an hour’s drive from Rome. He dreamed about coming to the United States when he was younger, and is using his experience as an exchange student to open his mind and change his mentality.

Northeast Dubois High School sophomore Dakota Roach listens to head coach Kendra Friedman at the start of swim team practice at the school in Dubois on Monday. Roach is part of exchange student Lorenzo Vaiardi's host family.

His hope is that being in America will help him grow up, and also improve his English. He has watched movies to help him with the language, and said he has seen “The Imitation Game” around six times. He first watched the 2014 World War II film in his native Italian language before watching it in English, which he said helped him a lot.

He would love to one day become a doctor, and touted the possibility of moving to America for good and also having a family. He’s open to attending college in the United States if he gets a scholarship.

He arrived in Indiana in August and it didn’t take long for him to make new friends. One of them is Daokta, who is not only his teammate on the Jeeps swim team, but also is part of Lorenzo’s host family.

“Dakota is actually more than my best friend,” Lorenzo said. “He’s a very good person. I really like him, especially as a person that I can trust. If I have a problem and I want to talk with someone, I can talk with Dakota. I can tell him whatever I want and I’m sure he’s not going to tell that to anyone else.”

The two teens got along right away. Dakota has helped Lorezno improve in the pool and Lorenzo has helped Dakota change his mentality. Dakota used to want to just finish his races because he was hurting in the pool, but now, he knows he has a whole team counting on him. He said he now has a more competitive side in the water.

He said Lorenzo has benefitted the team because he’s fun to be around and will help the Jeeps compete at sectionals, but Dakota likes him as a person, too.

“He’s very honest,” Dakota said. “He’s made me a more honest person, on how to give criticism better and how to take criticism better. He’s reconstructed a lot of my personality now.”

Jeeps coach Kendra Friedman said that’s who Lorenzo is. Friedman is fine with him giving critiques and showing his teammates a better way to do something in the pool.

Northeast Dubois junior exchange student Lorenzo Vaiardi poses for a senior poster photo during swim team practice at the school in Dubois on Thursday. Vaiardi recently broke school records in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.

“Sometimes, it’s better with the other swimmers hearing it from him versus me,” Friedman said. “He can say it a different way than I can as a coach at times.”

Lorenzo was on the Northeast Dubois soccer roster this year, and hopes to either play baseball or run track in the spring, but his love is in the water. He began swimming when he was 3 years old. He turned 17 on Nov. 28, two days after his record-breaking achievements.

He swam for a club, Ambranuoto, in Italy, since the country doesn’t have school sports.

He said his school back home has about 2,000 students, but only about 200 athletes. Lorenzo would practice swimming roughly six hours a day for six days a week all year round. He would wake up at 5 a.m., swim, go to school, then to the gym and then return to the pool.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, he’s going to be amazing,’” Dakota said. “We’ve never had anyone like him on the team before. I was excited. I was really excited.”

It didn’t take long for Friedman to know Lorenzo was going to be special, citing his experience. She knew from the first practice that he was going to do things at Northeast Dubois. Friedman sometimes puts times on the board. Lorenzo will ask her if he can go faster, to which she says he can.

Friedman said opposing teams will know about him if they don’t already. She’s confident Northeast Dubois’ relays will improve, with him likely to stay in the 200 medley relay, given his abilities in the breaststroke. Friedman said he’s also probable to swim the 400 freestyle relay.

“There’s very little things that I can even critique him on or try to correct him, because I mean, his technique’s pretty good,” Friedman said.

One thing she is trying to do is individualize Lorenzo’s sets during practice. Friedman is giving him harder times and is making him swim 1,000-1,500 yards more than everybody else. The coach said, though, that she’s made everybody’s sets longer, not just Lorenzo’s. The Jeeps are swimming more yards now than they did this time last year.

“Everybody sees how hard he’s working, and they want to work hard, too,” she said.

The best thing she can do at the moment, Friedman said, is to find sets that will help Lorenzo in the long run and give him a better chance of going to state. Northeast Dubois has a drought in that area. Lucas Schultheis qualified in the 50 freestyle as a junior in 2012, the first-ever Jeeps swimmer to be state-bound, but he’s been in a company of one ever since.

“To be the second swimmer to go to state, it’s going to be something special,” Friedman said.

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