The beautiful surface of the water

While she swims in the seas off Comodoro Rivadavia, he sails the lakes of Argentine Patagonia. They are Magalí Almonacid and Santiago Dondi and these are their stories.

For Magalí and Santiago, life is all about currents and tides. Magalí is a Junior Control Administration Analyst at El Tordillo who has been practicing open water swimming since she was sixteen, a keen swimmer almost before she could walk. Santiago, an Operational Planning Expert in the Neuquén basin, has been sailing since he was a teenager, and for the last eight or so years has been doing so more assiduously, including qualifying for his helmsman’s license.

“At first, I was too scared to go swimming in the sea, so I began to compete in pool contests, starting with provincial competitions, moving up to Patagonian and national tournaments, and even a trip to Chile. I was doing well, I was winning prizes, but my big dream was always the sea. I was irrationally terrified that a sea lion would come up to me, since there are several in Caleta Córdoba, and they tend to swim very close to boats and people. And if I was wearing my wetsuit they might think I was one of them, since they’re very curious. Until one day I just decided to go for it,” smiles Magalí.

Santiago, for his part, has been a sailor since he was a boy. “I started sailing small boats when I was a teenager. We lived in lots of different places because of my father's work: Santa Fe, Bahía Blanca and finally Comodoro Rivadavia, all places where there’s plenty of water. In Comodoro I started the helmsman course, until the pandemic arrived and I had to spend a year without going into the water at all. It was quite difficult for me, but luckily it passed quickly and I was able to return to one of my favorite places in the world.”

United by the pull of the water.Santiago and his family, Magalí.

Magalí was luckier: she didn’t have to give up her enjoyment of the waves. “There’s a far bigger adrenaline rush. In the pool, it’s all more rational, you can count the meters to the end etc. The sea is more challenging. You don't realize that you're tired, you're not cold, it gives you extra vitality,” she explains. She also likes team triathlons, and shares that, “Recently, we did a swimathlon with Gilda Muñoz, a colleague from work at El Tordillo”.

Santiago reflects for a moment about the time he was away from the water, and continues with his story: “I sail a Pampero sailboat called Bravucón. Pampero is a racing category where the races can sometimes include as many as 90 competitors. I participate whenever I can, I go to Entre Ríos, to Chascomús, to Lake Mari Menuco in Neuquén. But one of the things I like the most is sailing with my family, as of course this is meant to be for fun, and we also go for long walks on Lake Pellegrini, which is where my sailboat is moored.”

A genuine love for the water, for the magical golden hour as the sun sets over the waves. Magalí and Santiago are united by Tecpetrol as well as by their passion for currents and tides—and by the way they deal with obstacles. “I face up to my fears and challenges with a cool head, I think about everything I’ve accomplished, what I’ve done, what I’m working for, reminding myself that I can do this,” explains Magalí, and Santiago can only agree: "The way to deal with challenges is to identify them, analyze them, and be prepared."

Neither Santiago nor Magali can envisage themselves doing anything else: for Magali, “In the sea I feel free, strong and capable of anything. My mind zeroes in on the moment and I feel unsurpassable. I am comfortable swimming and absolutely sure that I’m doing it well.” And for Santiago, “sailing is still a challenge I have to master. You need to keep learning so you can handle the boat better and improve your skills as a skipper. This passion for sailing has driven me ever since I was a boy, and I relish competing as much as I enjoy the journey of discovery itself. There are some really good people in the world of sailing and the camaraderie is truly impressive.”

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