Valeria Silva

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Valeria Silva
Personal information
Full name Valeria Silva Merea
National team  Peru
Born (1985-09-04) 4 September 1985 (age 31)
Lima, Peru
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 61 kg (134 lb)
Sport Swimming
Strokes Breaststroke
Club Club Regatas de Lima
College team University of Michigan (U.S.)
Coach Jon Urbanchek (U.S.)

Valeria Silva Merea (born September 4, 1985) is a Peruvian swimmer, who specialized in breaststroke events.[1] She is a three-time national record holder for the breaststroke events, a two-time Olympic swimmer, and a multiple-time gold medalist at the 2008 South American Swimming Championships in São Paulo, Brazil.


Silva hailed from a sporting family in Lima, Peru. Her parents Javier and Luisa Silva Merea played for the national volleyball teams. Coincidentally, her mother competed at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, where she and her teammates placed in the quarterfinal round of the women's volleyball tournament. Her brother Matías, on the other hand, was a professional tennis player, and represented his nation in the Davis Cup.[2] Silva started swimming at the age of five, and began training at Club Regatas de Lima, a local swimming club in Peru, a few years later. She attended high school at Colegio Peruano Aleman Alexander von Humboldt in Lima, and competed for the swimming team in numerous national and continental junior championships. After graduating from high school, Silva was awarded a scholarship to train in Australia for a year, before she decided to move to the United States in 2004.[3]

Academic and sporting career[edit]

Silva attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she studied medicine, with a degree in neurology, psychology, and cognitive science. In the same year, she became a varsity player and member of the university's swimming and diving team, and had eventually achieved with numerous academic honors and sports awards by participating in the collegiate championships. She was also admitted to the Peru national swimming team, and selected as one of the twelve athletes to represent the nation at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, after winning the South American Championships.[4] Silva swam in the second heat of the women's 100 m breaststroke, where she placed fifth and thirty-seventh overall in 1:13.52.[5][6]

Silva emerged as one of the leading breaststrokers in the swimming team during her first season at the university. She achieved top-ten finishes in the breaststroke events at the Indiana Invitational, when she placed fourth overall in the 100 m breaststroke, with her personal best time of 1:05.05, and ninth in the 200 m breaststroke, at 2:21.42.[4] Silva took two years off to further continue her medicine studies, and train for the swimming team. In 2007, she returned to the international stage, and competed at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she placed in the semi-final rounds for the breaststroke events. She also qualified for the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne, where she earned top-thirty victories in all of her breaststroke events.[7]

In 2008, Silva made numerous achievements both in her swimming career and academic endeavors. She fulfilled her academic recognition in the university, when she was chosen as finalist for the Walter Byers Scholarship, the NCAA's highest academic award.[3] Although she missed several classes because of her sporting competition, Silva did not hinder her academic studies, and eventually, received a degree in medicine, when she graduated at the University of Michigan. She also qualified for the 2008 South American Swimming Championships in São Paulo, Brazil, and won gold medals for the breaststroke events. Furthermore, Silva set both a national and a continental record in the women's 50 m breaststroke, with an impressive time of 32.53 seconds.

Silva was selected as the only female swimmer and one of thirteen athletes to represent Peru at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She finally competed again in the women's 100 m breaststroke, and swam in the second heat. Silva finished in second place in the heats, and thirty-eighth overall, with a personal best time of 1:11.64.[8] Although she failed to advance into the later rounds, she set another national record for her respective event.[9]

Medicine career[edit]

After graduating from University, Silva attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, New York, and received her medical degree in 2012.[10] She is now completing her medical residency in otolaryngology (head and neck surgery) at Columbia Presbysterian Hospital.[3]


  1. ^ "Valeria Silva". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Olimpiadas Beijing 2008: Valeria Silva, natación" [Beijing Olympics 2008: Valeria Silva, swimmer] (in Spanish). NAPA Peru. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "From Laps at the Olympics to Rounds at Columbia Presbyterian". On Campus. Columbia University (NY). 11 May 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Voss, Ben (3 December 2004). "Silva brings global experience to Blue". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Women's 100m Breaststroke Heat 2". Athens 2004. BBC Sport. 15 August 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Thomas, Stephen (15 August 2004). "Women’s 100 Breaststroke Prelims: Aussies Hanson and Jones Qualify One-Two". Swimming World Magazine. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Lincoln, Ruth (31 January 2008). "One-time Olympian Valerie Silva hopes to again represent her country this year". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Women's 100m Breaststroke – Heat 2". NBC Olympics. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Moodie and Silva compete in 2008 Olympics". Michigan Go Blue. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Valeria Silva Merea: Olympic Swimmer Turned Otolaryngologist". College of Physicians and Surgeons. Columbia University. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 

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