At a swimming pool in Davie, you will find a record-holder from Bolivia, a two-time Olympian from El Salvador, a Brazilian ranked No. 8 in the world, Kuwait’s future hope for a medal, Peru’s two-person national team and Olympic swimmers from Qatar, Libya, India, Iran and Venezuela.
Swimmers from 53 countries have found a second home at this global hotspot in west Broward as members of the Davie Nadadores club. Coach Alex Pussieldi not only trains them but he also accommodates their multicultural needs.
During Ramadan last year, he held practices for his Muslim swimmers from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. so they could eat before sunrise and follow the tenets of the holy month of fasting.
He helped his Hindi swimmers construct a healthy diet devoid of red meat and directed his meat-eating Brazilian athletes to the tastiest local churrascarias.
He eased the culture shock for male swimmers from conservative Middle Eastern countries who had never seen women or girls in swimsuits before they arrived in Davie.
Pussieldi has dined with sheiks and prime ministers on his travels around the world reassuring parents and swimming federation leaders that the Davie Nadadores is the ideal team.
“People in other countries think my name is Davie. They ask, ‘Are you Davie?’ ” Pussieldi said. “The word is out. Swimmers get good results with the Nadadores.”
Pussieldi started the club at Nova Southeastern University’s Aquatics Center three and a half years ago with 13 swimmers. Now, three weeks from the start of the July 27-Aug. 12 Summer Olympics, he oversees 250 swimmers and 12 coaches.
He will be a busy man in London. Sixteen of his swimmers are competing in the Olympics for their countries.
The club first made a name for itself as a hub for South American, Central American and Caribbean swimmers. Its reputation for success has spread to Asia and Europe.
“Everyone dreams of swimming in the United States, against the best athletes at the best facilities,” Pussieldi said. “Our goal is to give them an opportunity to be good on an international level. We want to extend their careers. We tailor their training programs for their goals.”
Yousef Alaskari said he never would have qualified for the Olympics had he stayed in Kuwait City.
“No way, not even close,” he said. “The team back home is not good, not competitive enough to make me improve.”
Attend a Nadadores practice and you will hear a variety of languages and accents, even from the coaches, who are from Italy, Cuba, Jamaica, Venezuela, Brazil. Despite the differences, camaraderie prevails. Some swimmers share living quarters or attend classes together at Nova.
“We’ve been asked, ‘What languages do you speak at Davie?’ ” Pussieldi said. “I say, ‘Only one — swim fast. We understand each other when we swim fast.’ ”
The other universal language on any pool deck is the coach’s whistle. Pussieldi has a piercing one that his swimmers can hear as he calls out their split times while their orange-and-blue caps bob from side to side, lap after lap.
He developed his passion for the sport in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in the south end of the country, where it’s cold and both Portuguese and Spanish are spoken.