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Alex Grand’Pierre ’25 sets new record, reflects on family and Olympic career

February 23, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
FAMILY AFFAIR: Alex Grand’Pierre ’25 beat his own Haitian record in the 100m breaststroke at the World Swimming Championships. Grand’Pierre and his siblings are all prominent Haitian swimmers.

On February 11, Alex Grand’Pierre ’25 broke the Haitian record in the men’s 100m breaststroke (1:01:85) at the World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar. He is now turning his attention to the men’s swimming NESCAC championships this weekend and looking toward the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.

Grand’Pierre has held the Haitian record in the event for several years and has beaten his own record multiple times before. He felt very fortunate to represent his home country at the meet in Doha.

“It’s just really cool to proudly represent the Haitian flag as a Haitian. I get a lot of feedback from people in the diaspora and on the island, saying that they’re super proud of me and watch my races,” Grand’Pierre said. “And so it’s always surreal to be in those events because it’s special for me, but I also know it’s special for a lot more people that are watching me and can relate to my story and my identity.”

The race solidified Grand’Pierre’s position as the top male swimmer from Haiti, enabling him to be part of the duo Haiti will send to Paris this summer. This means that he will likely race even if he doesn’t make the qualifying time in the 100m breaststroke.

“Right now, I’m two seconds off of the qualifying time, but only like eight people in the world are going the qualifying time right now,” Grand’Pierre said.

The 100m event at the World Swimming Championships and the Olympics consists of two lengths of the 50-meter pool, which differs markedly from the four lengths of a 25-yard pool  that Grand’Pierre specializes in at NESCAC meets. This means that there is room for improvement at the Olympics once he transitions from NESCAC “short course” training to “long course” training.

“I hadn’t even been training long course—I’ve been training short course. And I ranked pretty well, so I think there’s a shot that I could semifinal and that would be a dream come true,” Grand’Pierre said.

Grand’Pierre’s siblings have also risen to a prominent position in Haitian swimming. Alex Grand’Pierre sees his two older sisters, Naomy Grand’Pierre and Emilie Grand’Pierre ’23, as role models.

“[Naomy] went to [UChicago], and she was the first Haitian Olympic swimmer to ever compete for Haiti,” Grand’Pierre said.  “So she paved the way for us, and I’ve just been following under her lead and now she’s a mentor to us.”

Alex Grand’Pierre’s sisters have been present to guide much of his swimming career, including Emilie Grand’Pierre’s career swimming for Bowdoin until her graduation last year. Her departure meant that Alex had to travel alone to the World Swimming Championships this year.

“It was kind of different because I usually have Emilie traveling with me. So that was kind of strange to travel on my own, but [my sisters are]  definitely a source of inspiration,” Alex Grand’Pierre said.

Fortunately, Alex Grand’Pierre’s younger brother Raphael Grand’Pierre ’27 has brought more of the family to Bowdoin’s swim team this year. Alex Grand’Pierre is excited to have his brother on campus and to serve as a mentor for him.

“I feel like I’m stepping into the role of an older sibling and showing him around but also appreciating his fresh eyes on the campus,” Alex Grand’Pierre said. “He points out a lot of things that I may not have noticed. And he brings a lot more enthusiasm and energy into the team that may have been lost.”

In addition to familial support, Alex Grand’Pierre has developed his own strategies for dealing with the attention that comes with competing on such a high level.

“I feel like I’ve done a good job of remaining calm and not losing it to the pressure, which is easier said than done, especially with all those lights and the broadcasting teams…. It can be daunting, but I just tried to have tunnel vision … just focus on my lane, the other side of the pool and just do what I’ve been doing for my entire life,” he said.

This weekend, the men’s swim team will head to Colby College for the NESCAC championships. Grand’Pierre is excited for the energy of the meet and to support his teammates after all of their hard work this season.

“I’m just looking forward to competing with the team,” Alex Grand’Pierre said. “The guys are looking good. Morale is high. And it’s always fun because I get to watch my teammates go fast.”


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