Angelina Messina is a competitive swimmer from Illinois best known for competing in breaststroke and individual medley events. She competed at the 2020/2021 US Olympic Swim Team Trials in Omaha Nebraska for a chance to represent the United States at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Miracle in the Water
Des Moines, IA: Angelina Messina knew this was her last chance. After a long covid lockdown that crushed the dreams of Olympic hopefuls around the world, she was back in the pool at the 2021 TYR 18 & Under Spring Cup. Friday was a let down for Angelina and her fellow St Charles Swim Team competitors, Molly Yetter University of Illinois) and Aleksej Filipovic (University of Texas). All three had failed to make an Olympic Trials cut on Friday night.
Locked out of the event due to covid protocols Angelina's father, John Messina, went to take his place in front of the large window along the south wall of the Welmark YMCA to try and catch a glimpse of the Saturday night finals. The three teenagers from St Charles, IL, were swimming in back-to-back events. That's when he noticed the building across the street, Catholic Charities, the organization that had brought his wife, Ly Samayavong, and her family from a refugee camp in Thailand to the Midwest 41 years ago. At that moment he knew that something special was going to happen and it did. Over the course of the next ten minutes all three teenagers qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in back-to-back events, and his daughter, Angelina, made history by becoming the first known Lao American to swim at a U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Angelina Messina was born in Chula Vista, California, to Giovanni (John) and Ly Samayavong Messina. Her father is a California native and of primarily Italian heritage. Angelina's mother was born in Vientiane, Laos, and fled to Thailand with her family when she was less than one year old. After spending time in the Nong Khai refugee camp they were sponsored by Catholic Family Charities and resettled in the United States. After a short stay in Illinois, the family moved to Amarillo, Texas, where Angelina's grandfather worked in the meatpacking industry alongside a large group of other Lao immigrants. The family later relocated to Las Vegas Nevada where her parents met while attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Angelina started swimming in a recreational summer swim league in Spartanburg, South Carolina, when she was six years old. She developed a passion for the sport and began swimming competitively prior to relocating to Illinois at the age of 10. As an Age Group swimmer, she won numerous medals at Illinois Swimming Championships and has represented Team Illinois at the USA Swimming Central Zone Championships. Angelina was selected by USA swimming to attend the Central Zone Select Camp (2018) and National Diversity Select Camp (2020).
During the 2021 TYR 18 & Under Spring Championship in Des Monies, IA, she qualified for the US Olympic Trials in the 200 Breast Stroke with a time of 2:32.96. She competed at the 2020/2021 Olympic Trials in Omaha Nebraska at the age of sixteen. Angelina is committed to swim at the University of Pittsburgh in 2022. The Pitt Panthers are an NCAA Division I team that competes in the American Athletic Conference (ACC). Be prepared for her repeat appearance at the Olympic Trials in 2024.
About this Article
Information for this article was provided by swimmingworld.com, swimcloud.com, and the Messina family.