Our New Favorite Swimmer And His Dad Flip Each Other Off Before Each Race

by Meredith Bland
Originally Published: 

Olympic swimmer Santo Condorelli gives his dad the finger for luck before racing

There’ve been a lot of inspirational stories coming out of this year’s summer Olympics, but none as magnificent as that of Canadian swimmer Santo Condorelli. Before every race, Santorelli flips the bird to what unsuspecting viewers might think is the viewing audience or his rivals. But before anyone gets offended or thinks that Santorelli is showing poor sportsmanship, the truth is that he’s actually flipping off his dad, who’s watching from the stands.

“Oh, okay then. That’s…wait, what?”

Hang on for a second. It’s actually really sweet.

When Santorelli was about eight-years-old, he was frustrated because he kept losing at all of his swim meets. He was small for his age and intimidated by the bigger guys he was competing against. That’s when his dad, Joseph Condorelli, came up with a way to build up his son’s confidence. “I told him ‘enough is enough’,” said Joseph. “When you get on the blocks, just put everything out of your mind and swim like there’s nobody near you. He said to me ‘how do you do that?’ and I said ‘well, you say **** it’. So he looked at me in the crowd, and we both gave each other the finger, and he started winning race after race and we never looked back.”

The pair had to adjust their ritual, however, after this moment at junior nationals.


His father was sitting behind the cameras, and Condorelli, unaware that they were focused on him, seemed to give the world the one-finger salute. This didn’t go over well. Condorelli wrote an apology letter, and while he and his dad still give each other the finger before the race, once he’s behind the starting blocks he does the old, “I’m-just-scratching-my-forehead-with-what-happens-to-be-my-longest-finger” move.

Telling the world to go fuck itself might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about ways to release tension, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Sometimes, especially when you’re an underdog, you need to prove to yourself that you’re not afraid and that you are every bit as tough as the big dogs.

And sometimes that means looking at your dad and saying, “Fuck ’em,” and your dad looking back at you and saying, “Agreed.”

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