Scott Dickens’ latest Olympic showing didn’t come easy, after he lost out on going to Beijing in 2008 by only 12/100ths of a second. A week after the Beijing swimming qualifiers, he appeared at an Ancaster elementary school and used the spirit and energy of the kids to prove to everyone in 2012 that he is still the best Canuck at the breaststroke.
Dickens’ first Olympic appearance was in Athens in 2004, when he finished 19th in the 100-metre breaststroke. Alongside athletics, swimming in the Olympics is one of the most popular spectator sports. Not only is swimming highly popular among the fans, the Olympics is a major event for the swimmers. “The Olympics mean everything to me in my sport. It all comes down to one race, one minute,” he says. “Although going back [to the Olympics] is stressful, I feel privileged and honoured.”
Immediately after missing out on Beijing, Dickens separated himself from swimming by travelling in Europe with his then-girlfriend and current wife, and watched only one Olympic race; Ryan Cochrane’s bronze medal swim in the 800-metre freestyle.
The time away seems to have worked for Dickens. In the four years since those trials, he has surpassed his personal bests and broken national records, which he is rather modest about.
“Breaking the Canadian record was fun, but at the same time, it’s just a time,” says Dickens. “Records are meant to be broken, and I just want to go faster now.” And go faster he did when he became the first Canadian to break the one-minute barrier in the 100-metre breaststroke in London with a time of 59.85 seconds.
Dickens’ record time advanced him to the semi-finals, where he lost out on a chance to compete for a medal in the finals. Despite the loss, his Olympic medal chances are not over yet, as he prepares to compete in the 200-metre breaststroke – what he says will be his last Olympic competition before he retires from swimming.
The swimmer is looking forward to doing things he hasn’t been able to do while training. “I’m big into snowboarding, and I think surfing would be a cool sport to learn,” he says. “Because of the risk of getting hurt, they’re activities I haven’t been able to do.”
One thing you’d think he had to give up is eating mostly anything he wants, but because of his vigorous workouts and extensive training, he needs a lot of calories. The one thing he does give up in the six weeks leading up to competitions is beer. As a fan of craft beer and having recently been on an India pale ale kick, we imagine he’ll be looking forward to being able to enjoy cold beers on a patio whenever he’d like.