Ten random thoughts from my first swimming world championships

I just got back to Canada after a three-week trip to Spain for my first FINA World Championships with the national swim team. While taking some much-needed downtime, I wanted to share a few thoughts from my first experience at worlds. Hey look – it came out to an even 10:

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Working with Ryan Cochrane and the Canadian swim team is awesome

  1. For some strange reason, there were lifeguards there. Wondering if “Lifeguard at swimming world championships” is the boringest job in history.
  2. When I was able to catch the team bus it was pretty cool to see some of the people who got on as we stopped at other countries’ hotels. For example, I shared a seat with Katie Ledecky the day after she set a world record, and played Tetris on my iPhone while surrounded by Russians.
  3. I am often surrounded by incredibly fit people in this job. Also, since they are wearing swimming garb, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to wear flip-flops to work.
  4. I met someone who had never heard of Wayne Gretzky. No, really. He had never heard of Wayne Gretzky!
  5. There are as many kinds of BO as there are countries.
  6. I don’t represent our country in competition, but I’m still proud to pull on Canadian colours, even if it’s only to sit behind a laptop in a golf shirt. When I was really tired before a couple of sessions, I reminded myself how lucky I am to do this and that I’m still a representative of Canada in the way I go about my business.
  7. I don’t like being referred to with the word “anymore” as in “you’re not X anymore.” This specifically bothers me when a journalist I know says “you’re not a journalist anymore” as though I’ve crossed some great chasm. Yes I work for a specific organization and have a vested interest. But I still perform similar (often more) tasks with a high level of skill and ethics. And I still support my family doing it. Some friends understand this tension in an evolving media landscape. Others working in the “traditional media” sometimes act like they’re looking down from a high place as though their media outlets don’t have their own interests. It’s not so black and white as defining communications as “the dark side.” I wish you wouldn’t be so condescending “anymore.”
  8. When you’re living out of one bag for three weeks you stop sweating the small stuff.
  9. Swiss Air has the best airplane food ever.
  10. Hearing the word “DaDa” in person for the first time in three weeks is pretty awesome. But I also realized you can’t “make up for lost time.” Everything we do with our time is a choice and you only get to make it once. I choose this kind of work, and I often love it, but there’s also a sacrifice to be made. My little girl was taking her first wobbly steps when I left, now she’s gallivanting across rooms. I can’t go back in time, but I can make the most of the time I do have. Those three weeks are gone, but I can still get down on the floor and play with her today.
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~ by Nathan White on August 8, 2013.

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