Latroya Pina leads the African nation’s first-ever Olympic swim team in the U.S.

Latroya Pina is the first member of her family to learn how to swim and now she has been selected to represent her country, Cape Verde, in the Olympics. This is a historical feat as it will be the first time Cape Verde sends a swim team to an Olympic event, and Latroya and her siblings, Troy and Jayla, have been awarded the honour to be three of the four members on the team. The three were discovered via Facebook by their country’s athletics association, which was formed in 2017. According to their mother, Maria Alfama, Latoya received a message from someone on the platform asking to meet her.“We thought that it was a scam,” Alfama, who had been posting videos of her children’s performances said. Once the athletics association also discovered that Latoya's brother Troy and sister Jayla were also swimmers, everything fell into place. They worked on their documents to enable them to become dual citizens.“Cape Verde is trying to make swimming a big sport now, so it’s our responsibility to represent our country. People in Cape Verde and all the Cape Verdeans in the U.S. will be looking up to us,” Latroya said.
Latroya started swimming when she was five years old. A coach at the East Providence Boys and Girls Club saw her skills and suggested that she takes lessons and swim for the club. Within five years, Letroya was taking part in national swimming events. Currently a biology senior at Howard University, Letroya has set a number of records for her college including career-best 200 (1:47.77) and 400 (3:58.22) medley relay teams(3:58.22), ranking No. 2 in the 100 breaststrokes (1:07.07) and 100 individual medleys (1:03.04), No. 3 in the 200 breaststrokes (2:26.14) and No. 5 in the 200 IM (2:14.18).
Latroya not only maintained a 3.6 GPA in the 2017-18 school year, but she also received multiple honours, including being named to the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner’s All-Academic Team and 2018 Eastern College Athletic Conference Spring President’s Honor Roll List. With her eyes set on the Olympics event in Japan in 2020, Latroya wants to help children in Cape Verde to learn how to swim.
“They obviously don’t have a swimming pool, so I do want to help them start up a program to start swim classes and to teach them how to swim. Not only in the ocean but swim in an actual competitive pool,” she said, adding that she might take a gap year before going to medical school. Latroya and her siblings competed at the 13th Confederation Africaine de Natation Amateur Swimming and Open Water Championship. They will also compete in the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in South Korea.