Neil Agius: ‘Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind you have to convince’

Former Olympic swimmer and coach Neil Agius tells all in our Q&A

Neil Agius. Photo: Kurt Arrigo
Neil Agius. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

The former Olympic swimmer and coach, a specialist in long-distance freestyle events, swam from Sicily to Malta in a record-breaking 28 hours, seven minutes and 28 seconds in June 2020. Agius currently holds the records in Malta for the 800m and 1500m freestyle

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I think of one thing that I am grateful for.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind that you have to convince.

What do you never leave the house without?

My reusable water bottle.

Pick three words that describe yourself.

Calm, determined, forgetful.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Swimming 100km from Sicily to Malta.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Trash TV.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Your mind is your only limitation.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

An instrument: a RAV Vast drum.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Money doesn’t buy happiness.

Who’s your inspiration?

Jake Vella and Thomas Mifsud.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Finding a balance between training, work and my personal life.

If you weren’t a swimming instructor what would you be doing?      

A restaurant owner.

Do you believe in God?


If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Michael Jordan.

What’s your worst habit?

I’m a procrastinator.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

My girlfriend would say silly. In a good way, I hope.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

People who moan about everything.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

‘Ilumina’ by Makaruja.

What is your most treasured material possession?

I don’t really have one.

What is your earliest memory?

Swimming for hours in my grandparents’ pool.

When did you last cry, and why?

On 26 June, during the night of my Sicily to Malta swim.

Who would you most like to meet?

Anthony Ervin.

What’s your favourite food?

Definitely burgers.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Don’t really follow anyone on social media.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Atlantis, the lost city.

What book are you reading right now?

‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

To be able to breath underwater.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Travel to every country.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

St Germain, a French musician.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

When swimming I don’t listen to music. I would mostly meditate.