In less than six weeks I’ll be jetting out of Aotearoa on a plane bound for Gwangju, Korea, to compete at the 2015 World University Games.
Two years ago The World University Games in Russia solidified my love for swimming at a time where I wanted to hang up the togs and forget the smell of chlorine.
It was my first big international meet and walking round the stadium for the opening ceremony listening to 40,000 people yelling their support for New Zealand was a moment I will never forget.
So for my first entry, here’s a quick flashback to the 2013 World University Games and my top 3 experiences of the trip:
I adore fresh, healthy food, but the array of options available in the athlete village tested my will power…
As many people know, swimmers are sensational eaters, and I am no exception.
Picture an enormous hall, lined wall to wall with foods categorized in to sections including pizza/pasta, Delhi, Asian, European, halal, local foods and even McDonald’s.
The novelty of free food and drink did not wear off at all during my entire stay in the athlete village.
I managed to steer clear of the golden arches till after my racing, but I did spend the bus trip back to the village after the last day of competition fantasizing over how many hamburgers, cheese pizza and Turkish delights I could handle in one sitting.
I even developed an addiction to iced tea which I wasn’t aware of until we left the village and its free beverages.
The food hall was not a dull place.
I will never forget the show the winning mens water polo team put on. Engulfed in the euphoria of the win, one of team members stood on top of the long tables wearing just Speedo’s and a medal before dousing himself in liquid yogurt to a mix of delight and disgust from a few hundred hungry athletes..
I would never trust a swimmer that doesn’t get excited over a flash pool and packed stadium.
The pool in Kazan was unreal, two back to back Olympic sized pools, multiple bathrooms (so important), huge stands and big screen results boards.
The pool was built new and the stands were completely packed during the competition. An eruption of sound would spill from the seats as finalists walked out through bursts of steam and fire.
There were even mascots to entertain the supporters from poolside!
It was definitely not Auckland champs, where 90% of the support comes from a 12 year olds proud mum…
I mentioned it before, but the opening and closing ceremonies were unreal. I’ve heard a lot of talk about ceremonies being boring, but i was so caught up in the atmosphere and myriad of cultures and athletes that boredom was never a factor.
Every athlete at the ceremony had a little gift pack which included a piece of paper, pens and a honorary graduation cap (wish it was legitimate, 5 years of part time study and counting!). Naturally everyone made paper planes with their paper and most had either a cellphone number or room number written across it..
Reliving some of these memories makes me so excited for this years Games! Bring on Korea!