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FIU swimmer to compete at Olympics

FIU swimmer to compete at Olympics

July 9, 2024 at 1:05pm

“What do you want to achieve when you grow up?” Oumy Diop’s fourth grade teacher asked the students in her class.

Diop had one answer: Make it to the Olympics.

“People probably thought it was something silly, but I was serious,” Diop says. “Going to the Olympics has always been my childhood dream.”

That dream will soon become a reality. Diop will be competing at the Summer Olympic Games later this month. Diop is one of a group of Panther swimmers who will be heading to Paris this year. Nicole Frank will be competing in the Olympics and Gia Pergolini will be competing in the Paralympics.

“Going to the Olympics means so much,” Diop says. “I still don’t fully realize, still haven’t fully wrapped my head around it. Every single day, I’m getting closer to competing in the Olympics. I want to embrace every moment that I will get to live there.”

Diop will be representing Senegal, the country where her parents were born. She plays a critical role in the country’s swimming scene — she is the only female swimmer from Senegal competing at the Olympic games this year.

“It's a big honor for me to represent Senegal,” she says. “For my parents it also means a lot.”

Diop was named an ambassador for the 2026 Youth Olympic Games, which will be hosted in Senegal in 2026. The event will be held for teenagers and will become the first International Olympic Committee event to be hosted on the African continent. “I will be talking to the youth about being an athlete,” she says of her role. “It's such an honor for me. I want to be an inspiration for female athletes in my country.”

Oumy Diop


In the water

Diop has been swimming since she was five years old. Her mom saw how much Diop enjoyed her time in the pool, so she encouraged her to continue.

Diop began swimming once a week, twice a week and then three times a week. She loved it, she embraced it. It energized her.

“Swimming became my safe place,” she says. “In the water, it was just me and my thoughts. I didn’t have to think about school or homework.”

Diop, who was raised in France, began swimming competitively when she was 10 years old.

Oumy Diop fell in love with swimming when she was a kid. She's been garnering medals ever since. She holds seven national records in Senegal. Among her impressive collection of medals are a gold, silver and two bronze she earned this year at the African Championships (right).

She has an illustrious list of international swimming accomplishments. 

She began representing Senegal in 2021, and in 2022, she earned the silver and bronze medals at the African Championships. This year, she won gold, silver and two bronze medals at the African Championships. She also earned two additional bronze medals at the African Games this past March. 

Panther journey

Diop began at FIU in Spring of 2023 and competed in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) just a month later. She began turning heads at the university soon, setting a new FIU freshmen record in the 100-yard butterfly.  

This year, as a sophomore, Diop had another strong season. One of the highlights: she earned four medals in relays at the 2024 AAC Championships and did her part to help the women's swimming and diving team secure its first AAC championship title in February

A typical day for Diop starts at 5:20 a.m. She heads to the pool at MMC, where she and her teammates stretch and later begin a two-hour practice session. Diop then spends the rest of the day juggling her time between classes, homework and another swimming practice or weight training session. It’s hectic, but she loves it.

She says FIU has been everything she hoped for.

“Every single day I spend at FIU, it's just a dream,” she says. “I'm surrounded by amazing teammates. We practice together and we cheer for each other. I’m well-surrounded by the incredible coaches and all the staff that we have around us. They help us with everything. For example, we have our athletic trainers who take care of our injuries. We have our weight coach that can provide accommodations in case we're injured. We have our academic coordinator to help us. We have a lot of people that help us succeed. I'm really thankful for that.”

Diop is majoring in liberal studies as well as natural and applied sciences. She also works as a lifeguard at the Wellness and Recreation Center.

She says one of her favorite parts about FIU is its beautiful campus. She’s made herself at home studying around different corners of campus, strolling to Breezeway to grab a snack or enjoying a bite to eat during her busy day.

“A Panda Express run after practice is a must,” she says. “Also, waking up every day and seeing palm trees means so much to me.” (Her hometown in France is usually covered in snow for about half the year.) 

Oumy Diop and fellow Panther swimmer Nicole Frank will both be competing at the Olympics in Paris this month. Tune into FIU News soon to learn more about Frank's story. 

The future awaits

Diop has already traveled to France and is preparing for the big day when she starts her journey at the Olympics. She will compete in her most formidable swim event — the 100-meter butterfly. She plans to hold nothing back at the Olympics.

As she thinks toward long-term goals, she plans to possibly pursue a medical-related career. She also hopes to continue speaking with children about the benefits of sports. A few years ago, she realized she loved speaking about the topic when she, along with a fellow athlete, had the opportunity to engage with children in schools across Senegal.

“We talked about the value of the Olympics and advocated about sports to children,” she says. “I will always remember how they looked at me when I was talking. I realized I could bring something to them and their lives, something I never thought I had to give. Now that I'm an ambassador for the Youth Olympics, this is something I’m reflecting on, and something I want to do again.”