Gators In Olympic Games: Alfonso Mestre – Florida Gators
Alberto Mestre was just 15 when he made headlines competing for his home country in the 1980 Games at Moscow. Mestre swam in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle events, but did not advance out of the prelims. He did, however, go to the 1983 Pan American Games and claimed silver and bronze medals in free sprint events, then qualified for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, reaching the finals in both the 100 and 200, where he finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
And now 35 years later, both of Mestre’s sons, Alberto Jr., of Stanford, and Alfonso, of Florida, will be competing at the Games; Alberto in the 50 free and Alfonso in the 800 free, which will be a first-time Olympic event. The two will become the eighth set of brothers to compete in the Olympics for Venezuela.
Ah, but there’s so much more to this story — especially as it relates to FloridaGators.com. That’s because the Mestre Olympic legacy is also the Gator Olympic legacy.
After the ’83 Pan Am Games, the elder Mestre came to UF and was not only part of three NCAA champions relay teams, but helped propel then Coach Randy Reese and his program to national titles in ’83 and ’84. The elder Mestre left Florida as a 17-time All American and graduated in 1987 and was inducted in the UF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Mestre’s are the first father-son Olympic tandem in Gators history.
Now, that’s a legacy.
AT A GLANCE
HOW HE QUALIFIED: Mestre bested the minimum Olympic qualification time of 7:54.31 in the 800 free by recording a 7:50.31 split in the 1,500 free at the FINA A cut of the Caribbean Confederation Amateur Swimming Championship in Puerto Rico last month. Yes, that counts. Mestre beat the qualifying mark by nearly four seconds, hitting the wall at 800 meters in 7:50.31.
TOKYO SCHEDULE: July 27 — 800 free heats. July 29 — 800 free final.
UF CAREER: Helped Gators to a 4th place finish in the 800 free relay at the NCAA Championships, swimming the third leg after Kieran Smith and Trey Freeman, and before anchor Bobby Finke. Both Smith and Finke will be in Tokyo, also.
NEED TO KNOW: Mestre will be one of 11 swimmers at the 2021 Games to have come through the UF program.
QUOTE OF NOTE: ” “This is what I have trained for all my life. All of the sacrifices have paid off and I can’t wait to give it my all for Venezuela in Tokyo.” — Mestre.
Previously: “Gators In Olympic Games” Series
June 26: Cory McGee
June 27: Michelle Moultrie
June 28: Natalie Hinds
June 29: Adriana Leon
June 30: Enzo Martinez-Scarpe
July 1: Kieran Smith
July 2: Genevieve LaCaze Gregson
July 3: Will Claye
July 4: Mark Kolozsvary
July 5: Marife Torres
July 6: Aubree Munro
July 7: Leanne Wong
July 8: Hakim Sani Brown
July 9: Deanne Rose
July 10: Yanis David
July 11: Marquis Dendy
July 12: Lloydricia Cameron
July 13: Bradley Beal
July 14: Bobby Finke
July 15: Kelsey Stewart