By Stephanie Horner, Vikes women’s swimming team
July 11, 2013, (ISN) – Hello (pree-vet) from Russia! – After several connecting flights, I am here in Kazan for World University Games! The athletes village is wonderful. It’s like an entire city condensed into one large restricted area; from cafeteria, to post office, to bank, to beauty salon…you name it! We have an entire building specifically designated for all Canadian athletes and support staff.
It’s a great opportunity to meet other Canadian competitors, and learn about their sport.
After having taken the time to settle in and fine tune my strokes in the pool, I am now counting down the days until the meet starts. We have an energetic team flow going, and we have this burning desire to transfer it into the pool. The competition pool’s architecture is very unique. It reminds me of a space ship – very futuristic!
I am looking forward to racing because representing my country has always been something that I am proud of. Ever since I was little, my goal was to make a National team. Earning a Canadian swim cap was my motivation. After having gained some international experience and taken part in the 2008 & 2012 Olympic Games, I still feel the same excitement and drive. Every experience is unique and feeds my mind and soul so magnificently.
As much as I value swimming, school has always had great importance to me. Therefore, taking part of a worldwide event that is academically related is a perfect combination of the two things I enjoy in life. Not only am I representing my country and sport, but I am given the opportunity to represent my University. Talk about having best of both worlds, eh!?
I always had the desire and need to balance both my school work and training. When I didn’t have one or the other in my life, I simply couldn’t obtain a sense of fulfillment. Easy enough, what I learned at school I was able to apply in my sport, and vise versa. In both cases, the will to learn and wanting to get better implies discipline, focus, determination, and even some patience for things to fall into place. This is only achievable if you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a fine group of people who are willing to help you pull through with their positive attitude and endless support. That sense of belonging to a certain school and/or a team is what will get you to go that extra mile for them.
In a way, being here at the World University Games is special to me because they prove me right. If you can manage your time wisely and set some realistic goals, and maybe even not so realistic, anything is possible. As Audrey Hepburn once put it, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” My journey has definitely not always been easy or perfect, but I believe I am mentally stronger today because of it. Eventually I will graduate and retire from competitive swimming, but the learning aspect of it will follow me everywhere.
In the meantime, getting pumped to race as best as I can!
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