116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — One of Caio Sassaron De Carvalho's first questions to his host family when he arrived in Cedar Rapids as a foreign exchange student was “where will I swim?”
It didn't take long for his host parents, Monica and John Kurtz, to find him a team. They saw on his exchange student application form he was a swimmer, but since he was going to be enrolled at Cedar Valley Christian, his host parents had to find him a program.
“We hadn't even enrolled him in high school at Cedar Valley Christian yet,” Monica Kurtz said. “Since we lived in the Washington school district, as well as having the knowledge that it was one of the best high school swim teams in the city of Cedar Rapids, we knew that he would have an incredible opportunity to be coached by the best.
“The Washington swim team has a long-standing tradition in the community and within the state of guiding and coaching strong swimmers. If we were going to host him at our home, we wanted him to swim with the best.”
Sassaron De Carvalho arrived in Cedar Rapids from his home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 27. One day later he was invited to a “swim family” event at Washington.
“We had a great discussion about our program and I got a chance to learn more about Caio,” Warriors Coach Matt Sinnott said about a Zoom meeting he held with Monica and John Kurtz. “After the Zoom meeting, I invited Caio and his host parents to our preseason picnic to meet the coaching staff and the swimmers. After a few minutes of talking with Caio, I could see the excitement in his eyes when we talked about swimming and how much swimming means to us and how passionate we are about the sport.”
Monica Kurtz said it took only a few minutes to see Sassaron De Carvalho had found his swimming home for the year.
“Caio was greeted by the coaches, and taken into the fold by the other swimmers,” she said. “When I saw the smile on his face from across the room, I knew that he was with the right team. That evening, he said, 'This is going to be a good team to be a part of.’
“His grit, determination, work ethic and desire to be successful are inspiring.”
Swimming has been Sassaron De Carvalho's passion for the past 10 years.
“I started competitive swimming when I was 8 years of age,” he said. “I began on a club team in my city. I really fell in love with being in the water, and I realized that I had the skills to swim.”
Sinnott said Sassaron De Carvalho's love for the sport is obvious.
“Caio is bringing his work ethic and his commitment to swimming to the team,” said the second-year Washington coach. “He is excited to train with the team and compete as a Warrior. We already have a team full of swimmers that are committed to getting better every day in the water and in the weight room as Warriors. Caio will only add to the success that we are building with our program.”
The training routine at Washington has been an adjustment for Sassaron De Carvalho.
“The swim practices here are longer in nature which makes them different,” he said. “In Brazil I had to condense the practices into a shorter time frame.”
Sassaron De Carvalho hopes to return to the United States to swim collegiately after returning to Brazil following the school year.
“My dream and goal will be to return to the U.S. to continue my academic studies, as well as swim at the collegiate level either in the fall of 2023 or 2024,” he said. “I have been exploring colleges that have swim teams as well as my area of interest, civil engineering.”
As for now, Sassaron De Carvalho is looking forward to the season, which begins for the Warriors at home Tuesday in a triangular with Linn-Mar, Kennedy and Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
“I’m really excited about the upcoming season with the Washington Warrior swim team, to contribute to the team's successes and make a difference,” he said. “Since I have arrived here and met the coaching staff and fellow swimmers at Washington have been great. I’m confident that it is going to be a fun and great season.”