The former Lake Oswego High School standout qualified in five events at the Olympics

Santo Condorelli, a longtime Lake Oswego resident, qualified for five Olympic swimming events with the Canadian national team. He reached the finals in the 100 freestyle with the third fastest qualifying time.Less than a week into the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil the United States is off to a stellar start. The team has picked up medals in women’s gymnastics and has been nothing short of dominant in the pool.

But while standouts like Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps are controlling the headlines, Lake Oswegans may want to pay attention to the Canadian swimming contingent.

One of its stars is Santo Condorelli, who qualified in five different events this year and is a former Lake Oswego High School student.

Condorelli lived in Lake Oswego for 14 years and shined for the high school team before moving to Florida after receiving an invitation from one of the state’s elite swimming programs.

He progressed dramatically toward the end of his high school career and earned a scholarship to USC where his times continued to drop.

Condorelli, now 21 years old, was one of the nation’s premier swimmers as the Olympic trials approached but, with his mother being Canadian, he would have more opportunities to gain experience and contend for medals with the Canadian squad.

“He probably would have only made it in two events for the U.S. but his times are right there,” said Santo’s father Joseph, who made the trip to Brazil to watch his son.

He qualified in five events, the freestyle and medley relays, the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, all events that require raw, athletic speed.

“This was always his goal. It was always the goal we both had for him,” Joseph Condorelli said.

He currently holds the Canadian national record in the 100 butterfly.

In this premier event, the 100 freestyle, Condorelli turned heads, qualifying for the semifinals and then making the finals with the third-fastest mark, putting him into medal contention. Results from the 100 freestyle final were not available at press time.

Condorelli has also been making headlines for another reason as the media picked up on his seemingly bizarre pre-race tradition.

As he loosens up and gets ready to step onto the blocks, Condorelli finds his father in the stands and raises his middle finger, a gesture that his father returns.

But it’s hardly a malicious occurrence. Instead it’s more akin to a running joke, one that has gone on for more than a decade.

When Condorelli was young, he was frustrated when older and bigger swimmers would beat him in competitions, so much so that it would effect his focus and his performance.

When he was eight years old, his father concocted a solution.

“I just told him to take all of those frustrations out on me instead,” Joseph Condorelli said. And a tradition was born.

“I think people always give us funny looks no matter what. That’s just who we are,” Joseph Condorelli said when asked about the reaction he received from other spectators.

The Condorellis were fixtures in the Lake Oswego swimming scene for years. Santo’s father coached him up until high school and they often swam with another Lake Oswego Olympian, Don Schollander who won five gold medals and one silver at two separate Olympics.

Joseph Condorelli says that Santo has been very focused on the task at hand and has been holed up in the Olympic Village when he isn’t training or competing.

For his own part, Joseph Condorelli has primarily watched the swimming events in his time in Brazil and has been living a father’s dream.

“It’s absolutely been a joy to watch him. It’s been the greatest part of my life,” Joseph Condorelli said.

Santo will be a junior at USC this year and has plans to make a return trip to the Olympics in 2020. And, depending on his times, he may be representing the United States in his next appearance.

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