Manuel Bortuzzo was born in Trieste on 3 May 1999 but shortly after his family moved to San Stino di Livenza (Venice) and then on to Portogruaro. He began swimming at the local pool at the age of four or five, choosing freestyle and excelling in the middle-distance events. He joined Team Veneto in Venice, while his family moved to Treviso. He swam with the son of Giorgio Lamberti as a youngster and broke Gregorio Paltrinieri’s Italian indoor 3,000m record in 2015 before being selected as part of the elite talent programme for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He joined the Sergio De Gregorio club in Rome in 2017 before signing for Aurelia where he swam at the national training centre in Ostia. At 02:15am on Saturday 3 February he was at a service station with his new girlfriend Martina in Rome’s Piazza Eschilo when two men on a motorbike shot a bullet which pierced his lung and remained lodged in his spinal column. He was paralysed from the legs down. With a smile and a sunny outlook he has promised “to get back in the pool and win again”.