Martha_McCabe

“My version of success has changed a lot over the years. For me now it’s about enjoying every single day, pushing myself every single day and achieving small goals. Success is being my best.”

At 25 years old, Martha McCabe has achieved more success than many her age. She is a 2011 World Championship bronze medalist and 2012 Olympic finalist, specializing in 200-meter breaststroke. She has a degree in Kinesiology from the UBC and is a motivational speaker in the RBC Olympians Program.

We asked Martha to share insights into the life of an athlete, her professional setbacks and successes, and how she balances work and play.

AS TOLD TO CARRIE FISCHER


 

My first role model was…

My oldest sister, Carolyn.

I get my motivation from…

Wanting to succeed and be the best I can possibly be.

Do you have any superstitions?

No! In swimming there are so many things that can go wrong, so I do everything I can to avoid having superstitions. But for fun, I always wear my Vancouver 2010 red Hudson Bay mittens when I’m walking out to an international final.

On average, I train…

Six hours a day.

I balance my training and my personal life by…

For me, outside of training it’s all about being around friends and family, and being able to travel the world. I’m also part of the RBC Olympians program. This helps me balance my life with athletics and the beginnings of my career after swimming. Staying on top of my schedule and having all of these things in my life helps me find balance.

What’s involved in the program?
I spend about 15 hours a week at the RBC brand marketing head office in downtown Toronto. Half of it involves speaking engagements, and the other half is hands-on work experience. I help out with office tasks and learn new skills. It’s a really good way to gain experience. It helps out so many athletes.

“Looking back now, it wasn’t a failure, but at the time I felt like my whole world was over. It was about learning that it takes time to build a world-class swimmer.”

I define success as…

Success is being happy with your life. My version of success has changed a lot over the years. For me now it’s about enjoying every single day, pushing myself every single day and achieving small goals. Success is being my best.

My personal triumph was when…

Last year I got injured – I tore my right clavicle and couldn’t swim for 3 months. I had to keep my arm by my side. I came back from that and qualified for the national team. Fighting through challenges is what has made me better as a swimmer.

If I have a bad day, I get over it by…
I just think about what my ultimate goal is and what I have to do to get there. I also have fun with friends, laugh lots and remind myself to not take anything too seriously.

“I want to transition into a role outside of swimming and be successful there as well.”

I seem to surprise people when I tell them…

Two things. One, that I really like beer. And two, that I started my swimming career doing three years of synchronized swimming.

Martha_McCabe_SwimmerMy biggest setback was…

Back in 2008 when I didn’t qualify for the Olympic team.

I overcame it by…

I spoke with older swimmers and coaches (people who are more experienced) and learned that everyone has little failures like that. Looking back now, it wasn’t a failure, but at the time I felt like my whole world was over. It was about learning that it takes time to build a world-class swimmer.

Something I still want to accomplish is…

I want to travel more of the world – it’s one of my favourite things! I also want to find something else I’m passionate about outside of sports. It’s a challenge shared by many athletes once they finish their sport. I want to transition into a role outside of swimming and be successful there as well.

The most memorable moment from my 2012 Olympic experience was…

Going into the stands after my race and seeing my family. When I finished my race, I looked and saw my mom. I was still in the water and was able to give her facial gestures on how I felt about the race. Afterwards, I got to go into the stands and see my family. I had a cousin (Colin McCabe) competing in the Men’s Eight Rowing Team and he won the silver! It was a big family event and I loved being able to share it with not just my immediate family, but my aunts, uncles and cousins also.

“Getting to represent Canada every summer and wearing the maple leaf is an honour for me.”

What does it mean to you to compete at the 2015 Pan AM games in front of a home crowd?

This summer is going to be a once in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. It’s just really exciting. There have been so many times I’ve gone overseas to compete and friends and family watch it on TV or on a webcast, and I get tons of messages from them before I come back to Canada. This time the difference is they’re all going to be in the venue with me. I can share the moment with them. Getting to represent Canada every summer and wearing the maple leaf is an honour for me. When I touch the wall, they will all be there with me touching the wall. They will feel the pride I have the privilege of feeling every summer.


Interested in getting access to role models like Martha? Visit our upcoming events page and see which speakers we have lined up this season!


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