Students at Mountview Elementary School in Red Deer were treated to a presentation of Olympic proportions, last Wednesday, as Canadian swimmer Martha McCabe dropped in to share her experience of international competition.
McCabe, who just recently returned from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio, has been travelling coast-to-coast to talk about her experiences and message of hard work with students and athletes across Canada.
“For me, I just know that by seeing someone it can change your view of what’s possible and that’s kind of how I got to the Olympics,” said McCabe, who resides in Toronto.
“My sister’s friend qualified for the Olympics and I knew her as just another person. So I just am trying to get out there and have kids see me as just another person.”
Over the course of her hour long talk with the students, McCabe shared the story of how she worked her way onto the Canadian swim team in time to head to her first Olympics in London in 2012, some of her various accomplishments at the international level and fielded questions from a group of students.
She also brought along her silver medal from the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto and her bronze medal from the 2013 FINA World Championships for the kids to hold and inspect.
“I want to make them realize that if they really set their minds to something that they’re passionate about and good at then they can get to super high levels of whatever it is they’re working on. With kids this young, it’s more about getting the idea of even just staying healthy and being active,” she said, adding that her message is especially meant for aspiring athletes.
When asked by one of the students what her biggest challenge has been on her journey, McCabe said she ran into some injury troubles earlier this year that prevented her from training as much as she would have liked to in advance of Rio.
“I got injured in my shoulder, so I couldn’t train as hard as I wanted to for awhile. But basically all I did was just try and control what I could and slowly but surely my body healed and I was able to get back onto the National team and race that summer,” said the 200 metre breaststroke specialist.
She said that aspiring athletes can learn from that experience to always maintain a positive outlook.
“Some of the older ones and some of the kids who are more into sport, specifically, I can teach them little lessons that I’ve learned along the way and just let them know that there’s going to be bumps in the road. It’s not always smooth sailing and you just want to teach kids to not give up and to persevere when things do get challenging, because they’re going to get challenging.”