St. Mary CSS Swimmer to Paralympic Hopeful

Charlie Giammichele: From St. Mary's Star Swimmer to Paralympic Hopeful
Posted on 03/20/2024
Charlie Giammichele smiling for photo

By Larry Moko

When Grade 12+ graduate Charlie Giammichele leaves St. Mary Catholic Secondary School for the final time he’ll be regarded as one of the most accomplished swimmers in the school’s history.
The 18-year-old Carlisle resident recently captured his fourth OFSAA gold medal in the past 24 months – all in 50 and 100-metre para freestyle events.

In addition, he won two provincial high school bronze medals as a Grade 9 student the year before COVID precautions forced the shutdown of the sport in 2021 and ’22.
Giammichele raced to S7 classification victory earlier this month at Toronto’s Pan Am Sports Centre with times of 31.56 seconds and 1:09.95.

“(Charlie) definitely had more competition this year,” St. Mary coach Kathryn Newberry said. “There was a lot more swimmers. It was a bigger event in many ways.

“There was one boy who definitely gave him a run for his money. We were nervous about it. Maybe Charlie wasn’t as nervous as we were.”

Newberry said Giammichele did “a great job” in the 100: “He actually got a personal best time and broke the Canadian record.”
Commenting on his provincial high school swimming career, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic representative said: “It was really fun. I wasn’t sure I was going to win again this year.”

That uncertainty was due in part to Giammichele’s classification being changed from S9 in 2023 to S7.

Competitive swimming remains a passion for Giammichele. And the Paralympics is his goal.

“He has been accepted and is going to McMaster University for economics in the fall,” Giammichele’s mother, Mary, said. “He’s got a lot of travel coming up for swimming.”

That travel begins this week when the Eastern Canadian championships are held in Quebec City.

Then, in April, Swim Canada is taking him to Madeira, Portugal for the European Para Open championships.

That’s followed in May by the Canadian Paralympic trials in Montreal.

“I know they want to look at his 200m IM,” Newberry said. “There’s a few events he has to do and they want to make sure he can hit certain times in those events.”

Giammichele holds three Canadian records in his class – two in freestyle, the other in 100m breaststroke (1:27.49). So if he doesn’t land a spot for this summer’s Paralympics in Paris, the goal is to be selected for 2028 in Los Angeles.

“It’s exciting,” the Golden Horseshoe Aquatic Club member said. I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Last December, Giammichele and seven others from Ontario were selected to take part in a para-only swim meet in Surrey, B.C. And at that Ken Demchuk International competition, he won the 100m freestyle and 100m breaststroke. It was also where Giammichele got his international S7 classification.

“It’s absolutely incredible to see these athletes,” Mary said. “It’s really inspiring.”

Charlie was born as a triplet. And at the OFSAA championships earlier this month, his “able-bodied” brothers – Joseph and Thomas – along with Tavian Augustus and Noah Beaudoin swam St. Mary to a ninth-overall finish in the 13-19 open boys 400m freestyle relay (3:52.86).

“It’s tremendous,” Newberry said. “They weren’t expecting a top 10 finish. They also took six seconds off their best time.”

Charlie Giammichele posing with medal

Charlie Giammichele with his coaches