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Thierry Jacot, Global Head of Risk, Switzerland – 1984 Summer Olympics

Thierry Jacot, Global Head of Risk, Switzerland – 1984 Summer Olympics

Los Angeles, United States – Swimming: 200m and 4 x 100m freestyle

When I started swimming at 8 years old, it clearly wasn’t planned. It happened naturally. You win a few youngsters’ local competitions, then the Switzerland “French speaking region” championship, then the Swiss championships, then you get more hungry for victory, and so on, until the Swiss trials where you need to be ready on the big day to qualify.

The Olympics are bit different from the other competitions like the Swiss or European Championships in the sense that you get more media attention. The level of competition is of course way higher. You also get to meet not only swimmers, but athletes from other sports. It goes from seeing Carl Lewis in the Olympic village, to queuing at the village’s cafeteria surrounded by a group of Asian women taller than yourself—which was likely the Chinese basketball or volleyball women’s team (I am 6’4” / 194cm, so it’s not a situation I’m familiar with!).  

To me, I’d say to compete at the highest level was an affirmation of all the laps and hard work, or to put it differently, for the pain. It was a fabulous experience, but there is relief when it is done. In a sense, you can say ‘I’ve been there and done that’ and now I can move on. I am of course proud of it, but I imagine nothing compared to how proud my parents are.

The transition back to the “real world” is rarely easy for an athlete, given the dedication required to compete at high levels. I had a supportive family and friends, and good opportunities for employment. But knowing how difficult it can be, I have become a council member of a foundation that provides support for local and promising athletes, since in Switzerland public financial support is rather scarce. This is my way to “give back” part of what sport has given to me.