I'm back from Russia! I had such a lovely time. I truly enjoyed participating at the World University Games for different reasons. Not only was I there to race my heart out, but I found time to appreciate the Games themselves as an event, the city of Kazan's culture and history, and last but not least being able to contribute to the Canadian swim team's energy and success.
At the Games, I was racing on one of the very last days. It's always slightly of a killer because all of your teammates have begun to race, and you have to patiently wait for your turn and keep your focus. However, I like to look on the bright side of things. Having to wait gave me sufficient time to observe how prelims and finals were being managed, and also gave me a strong sense of the pool's environment and ambiance. For example, I found that the water had a very thin feel to the skin. In warm up, with lots of swimmers in it, the water would get blurry very easily due it's delicateness. Yet, when it came to race time, the pool would be clear as a crystal. During finals, the crowd was continuously roaring. It was definitely easy to feed off of their energy!
Something else I am proud of was when my teammates nominated me as Team Captain. What a nice surprise that was! I felt honoured, but at the same time it helped me be even more accountable. I did not want to let my team down in any way, and I wanted to contribute to the best of my abilities. Swimming in prelims, semi-finals, and finals was a great experience. What I like about swimming an event more than once is that I can learn from my swim and then improve from there on. It's all about detail, precision, and drive!
Even though I was unfortunately not able to attend either the opening or closing ceremonies, I was able to see camaraderie between many athletes from different countries in the village. For example, I have never seen so much trading going on at one time. Everyone is looking to obtain an item from a different country, especially from Russia, as they were the ones hosting the Games. What I like about trading is the closeness within countries that occurs. Trading pins is also a HUGE tradition and trend. Athletes have a collection of pins all along their accreditation and are rockin' it like it's their new bling bling ;)
Had it not been for all the Russian volunteers speaking English, I would have found it very challenging to make my way around. Speaking Russian is nothing like French and certainly not English. As much as I wanted to try to decipher some words, there was no luck with me trying to learn their complete alphabet in such little time; good thing smiling is universal! However, I did learn a few words like please and thank you that I will keep with me for a lifetime.
One of my favourite parts about Kazan was the Millennium Bridge. We would take it everyday to get to the pool. It was built in 2005 and it has the shape of an M-like Pylon to celebrate its one thousand years.
On another quick swim note, Summer Nationals took place last weekend. I was in the area so I took the opportunity to drop by to cheer some of my fellow Vikes teammates on. Some fast swimming was going on at the competition pool. Already looking forward to start training with them again out West!
Enjoy the rest of your summer and make the most of it,