Today I dedicate my blog to the wonderfully inspiring, Vanessa. In the recent European Games in Baku, Vanessa and two of her teammates were victim to a horrific bus accident at the Athletes Village. The news of this incident hit us hard half way across the world and we have been praying for them ever since. Her two teammates have recovered well, but it has come to our attention that Vanessa, after multiple surgeries is now Paraplegic.
So we ask all of you to support Vanessa in this fight. Her courage has taken her this far and with our help we can show her how much her bravery has touched us around the world. We give you this small challenge: Post a picture or video of you doing Synchronized Swimming with the hashtag #SwimForVanessa and show your support for this brave woman.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Clara Hughes, one of the most decorated and inspirational athletes to date. After reading her book, “Open Heart, Open Mind”, I realized how much she’s been through these last few years. It describes her struggle with depression leading to and during her many Olympics as well as how sport saved her from Alcohol and Drug abuse. It is beautifully written and I encourage others to read it!!!
I arrived downtown at 4:00pm. After driving around for a solid 20 minutes, I found some parking near the bookstore where she was supposed to be speaking… Losing my Visa Card in the process (which I only realized now) I pay for the parking and walk to the Indigo.
At 5:30pm Clara arrives. She speaks to the press, en français, and then has an interview in front of the waiting audience. She spoke about her past, her parents, her inspirations and of course, her husband who has clearly been a huge part of her journey to success. There were moments where you hear her voice crack, creating a feeling that this new chapter in her life about opening up has been difficult for her.
7:00pm: it’s finally my turn to meet my idol. She calmly turns to me and says hello. Without a moments hesitation, I spill my entire story to her and explain my fears and struggles heading to the 2016 Olympic Games. She just listens; no interuption or telling me that she has to move on to the next person. Patiently, she looks at me with such kindness and understanding.
Clara explains to me that sometimes everything goes perfectly pre-games and when you get there, it all falls apart. Or other times, you’re at the point of breaking and when you get to the Games, you have the best competition of your life. You might pre-qualify and everything will be stress free leading up to the Olympics, or you will have to fight for that last spot. Basically, it will never go as planned, no matter how much you try to make it so. She’s been through it all.
She emphasized the importance of working as a team; bringing each other up when it’s necessary. Her wisdom towards the Olympics and the struggles that come with such an event are so evident, even relating cycling to swimming. Clara put everything in perspective, transforming my recent feelings of panic to confidence.
I am proud to say that there is a lot of excitement surrounding this new season. Obviously, there is some stress as well, but we have a ton of great things coming to us as we prepare for our “race to the finish line”.
We have started creating some new routines for the Qualifier. These take time, but we have made fantastic headway opening our minds to new ideas and storylines. We have managed to find some inspiration through a theme, which took us approximately 2 weeks to agree upon, but finally it’s something we can visualize ourselves competing internationally and swimming with excitement.
I have been named tech team captain, to help Marie-Lou Morin as we will now be sharing responsibility for the team. This is a new challenge for me as I must be positive enough to encourage, but tough enough to strive for results from the girls (and myself). I think this opportunity will teach me amazing things for my future not just as a synchronized swimmer but also as an individual. Those who know me understand how much I expect from my teammates as well as how much pressure I put on myself to be the best I can be. I am thrilled to see how much progress we can make in the coming weeks and will try to update this blog more often, as I am finally accustomed to my daily routine!
The Toronto Pan Am Games will be a great opportunity for us to show how proud we are to be Canadian! We have been working so hard for the chance to win a GOLD medal in front of a home crowd and this is our time!! It’s going to be an amazing experience for the athletes and the fans!
Come out and support us as we head to some of the biggest competitions of our careers!
Click Here for a short, inspiring, clip of the Games!