This week, Olympic Swim Finalist Rachel Nicol dropped into the studio for a candid conversation with David Taras. What we got was an inside glimpse into the life of an Olympic athlete.
Nicol has been in the pool since she was 4 years old. Her dedication and perseverance saw her rise through the ranks and has been representing Team Canada since she won the 100m breaststroke at the Canadian Trials in 2010.
The now 25-year-old was an Olympic finalist in Rio de Janeiro 2016. She entered the competition ranked 15th but finished the tournament in 5th place, missing out on a medal by 1.01 seconds. She now has her eyes firmly set on changing that in Tokyo 2020.
Being an Olympian comes with a certain degree of obsession. She trains for 5-6 hours a day and explains that her role isn’t just to be ready for practice, but rather that her world “revolves around swimming.” Everything from eating right, drinking enough, getting quality sleep, training, as well as physiotherapy and massage.
A schedule this intense can lead to frustration if improvements aren’t seen. Nicol reflected on periods of plateau she has experienced noting that “athletes are their own worst critic,” but when you “really nail it, afterwards you feel so good about yourself.”
Leading up to Rio, Nicol had to undergo a great deal of pressure through a difficult trial in order to represent Canada at the games. She stated that the Olympic trials were one of the most stressful things she has ever done. More so than the Olympics themselves. To manage her stress, she uses strategies like accepting doubt, and focusing on only what one can control. To keep her mind calm, she reflects on the hours she has spent training and preparing which cultivates a great deal of confidence.
When asked what was most memorable about Rio, Nicol praised the “incredible” team atmosphere, which was kicked off by a bronze medal win in the 4×100 freestyle relay on opening night. For her, the best part was the “teammates and friendships made.”
Nicol admits her “biased” view but believes Calgary should bid for the Olympics. She says, “there’s no other experience like it, to have those kinds of moments for people who have dedicated their lives to having the best performance… You’ll never find that anywhere else, except the Olympics.”
David Taras Talks is a weekly talk show that features fascinating people who are making an impact in our world. Next Wednesday, former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be interviewed.