The Last Word with 2012 Olympians Martha McCabe and Scott Dickens

A pair of UBC's 2012 Olympic swimmers share their greatest fears, training diets and desert island musical picks.

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Martha McCabe, BASc’12

Martha McCabe has always had an affinity for water and sporting competition. Originally from Toronto, she and her siblings would hold the “McCabe Olympics” at their summer cottage in Lakefield, Ontario.

Now her goal of competing in the Olympics is a reality and the possibility of winning a medal is within her reach; Martha is in London representing Canada in the 200 metre breaststroke.

When she’s not in competition mode, Martha can be found playing hockey, completing  triathlons, travelling, drinking German beer, being goofy,  laughing a lot, and spending time at her family’s cottage in Lakefield, where it all began.She credits her family – in particular her brother, Jeff – for encouraging her at age 12 to swim competitively. She’s been a member of the Canadian National Team since 2009 and was named Canadian Interuniversity Sport Swimmer of the Year in 2010. She represented Canada in the 2009 and 2011 World Championships as well as the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Games. In 2011, Martha won bronze in the 200-metre breaststroke at the World Championships in Shanghai – a highlight of her swimming career to date.

What is your most prized possession?
A pair of 2010 HBC Olympic mitts. I wear them before every big swim meet when I’m walking out for my race. They’ve travelled all around the world with me to some pretty exciting events.

Who was your childhood hero?
I looked up to Canadian athlete superstars like Donovan Bailey and Simon Whitfield, but really, in my daily life as a kid, my heroes were my three older siblings. I wanted to be just like them so emulated a lot of what they did, making me who I am today.

Describe the place you most like to spend time.
My cottage in Lakefield, Ontario. I love heading up there with friends and family in the summer time. Hanging out in the sunshine all day and cooling down by jumping in the lake every so often.

What or who makes you laugh out loud?
Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Zack Galifianakis. People with accents, certain TV shows – Gloria on Modern Family is a mix of both, so especially her. I hang around funny people, so most of my friends. My three siblings are some of the funniest people I know.

What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?
To never take anything for granted, and always take notice of everyone around me who’s helping me get to where I need to be and make sure they know how grateful I am for their support.

What’s your idea of the perfect day?
With a big sleep behind me, I wake up to a sunny summer day and do a fast but easy-feeling triathlon, followed by a giant brunch with some family and friends. Head to a beach or lake and hang out. Later have a BBQ with a few beers and a campfire!

What was your nickname at school?
Mar, Marty… nothing too crazy. My current coach started calling me Smarty shortly after I started swimming with him, because I can be a bit of a smart ass from time to time.

What would be the title of your biography?
Too Many Ideas, Too Little Time

If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
For a million more wishes, of course!

What item have you owned for the longest time?
I’m not sure, but I’m going to guess my Pink Panther stuffed animal. I got it when it was taller than I was, and it’s definitely still kicking around the house but is much, much smaller than I am now.

What is your latest purchase?
A pair of shoes. I buy too many, too often, but at least I use most of them… usually.

What would you like your epitaph to say?A g
enuine friend who knew how to laugh lots, have fun and put a smile on your face 

If you could invent something, what would it be?
A teleporting machine, so it would be a lot easier for me to visit my family and friends around the world

What are you afraid of?
Birds! I’m ok with the small ones who stay away, but big crows and seagulls flying too low really gross me out.

Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.
I guess it would be pretty fun to be more artsy – maybe a really good painter or something.

Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?
Simon Garfunkel: “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”
Eminem: “The Real Slim Shady”
Blink 182: “Down”

What is your pet peeve?
When people don’t take responsibility for their actions or surroundings. If you want something good to happen around you, you have to step up and make it happen. There’s bad luck, we all run into that, but sooner or later if you really work at something, great things will happen.

Describe a day’s food intake while training.
Before my AM swim a banana, and afterwards two eggs with toast, tomatoes, spinach, avocados, onion, and ham.  My weights session is followed by a fruit smoothie and a sandwich. After my final swim of the day I eat a big dinner. My favourite is butter chicken, with rice, naan bread and a salad.

What advice would you give to a young swimmer with Olympic hopes?
Work hard and always think of new ways of approaching your dream. Hard work will get you far, but smart work will get you much farther.

If you weren’t a swimmer, what sport would you be active in and why?
Track or triathlon. I’m more of an individual sport kind of gal. I’ve always had a bit of a knack for running. Running is nice because you don’t stare at a black line at the bottom of a pool for hours on end – the change of scenery is a treat.

If you get the chance, what do you most want to see in London?
Usain Bolt run the 100m final. I doubt I’ll be able to get to this event, given it will be one of the most popular events of the entire games. Bolt knows how to put on a show not only with how fast he runs, but by sharing his personality too.

 


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Scott Andrew Dickens, BA’10

When Scott Dickens was growing up he loved being in the water, so his parents thought swimming lessons would be a good idea. By the age of 10, he was winning provincial swimming championships and by 12 knew he wanted to compete in the Olympics.

In 2000, Dickens qualified for the Olympic Trials in Montreal, but failed to qualify for the Olympics after finishing last in the men’s 100-metre breaststroke. He was 15. Afterwards, he told his mom that next time he’d win. Four years later in Toronto, Dickens not only won his first national title at the 2004 Olympic Trials but beat the qualifying standard to earn his first trip to the Olympic Games (Athens) where he finished 19th in the 100 metre breaststroke.

Dickens credits his competitive drive as the catalyst that’s helped him get to where his is today – and that’s in London about to compete in his second Olympic Games in the men’s 100 metre and 200 metre breaststroke and the men’s medley relay.

What is your most prized possession?
It would have to be my first Olympic ring. It means so much to me because I worked so hard to get it.

Who was your childhood hero?
Michael Jordan. I loved watching him play basketball.

Describe the place you most like to spend time.
Either here in Vancouver on a sunny day with my wife, or in Maui on a beach soaking in the sun

What was the last thing you read?
The magazine beer west about craft beers and home brews

What or who makes you laugh out loud?
My wife always knows how to make me laugh and crack a smile.  I am really lucky to have her.

What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?
Life is too short to not enjoy yourself.  We only get one life and one go so we might as well enjoy it and go after our dreams and have fun.

What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Sleeping in with my wife, going for a swim outside, and then enjoying the day outside at a beach or on a patio

What was your nickname at school?
My most common nickname was just my last name, Dickens. And then I had the odd “Scotty Too Hotty,” ha ha.

What would be the title of your biography?
It would be Never Give Up. Those words mean a lot to me because they inspired me to keep swimming after I missed the 2008 Olympic team.

If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
It would have to be a free house in Vancouver on the beach with a bottomless keg in the basement.

What item have you owned for the longest time?
Probably the first medal I ever won for swimming when I was seven years old

What is your latest purchase?
A backpack for travelling this summer after the London Olympics

Whom do you most admire (living or dead) and why?
I admire my parents because they were the ones who gave me the opportunity to swim, and without them doing that I would never have made it to the Olympics.

What would you like your epitaph to say?
“Quit crying and grab a beer” or “Never Give Up”

If you could invent something, what would it be?
I would invent a time machine because I think it would be so cool to go back in time to see everything or into the future to see what the world is like years from now.

In which era would you most like to have lived, and why?
I would want to live in this era because I love all the opportunities and thing we have available to us.

What are you afraid of?
I am not the biggest fan of spiders and bees – they just creep me out.

Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.
I would love to be able to play the guitar and learn how to surf.

Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?
It doesn’t really matter which three pieces of music I would take to a desert island because, no matter what they were, they would drive me crazy because I would get so sick of them.  But if I had to choose I would probably take the Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Stadium Arcadium.

Which famous person (living or dead) do you think (or have you been told) you most resemble?
My wife and friends say I look a lot like Roberto Luongo.

What is your pet peeve?
Being late for anything.  Bad drivers.  Poor service at restaurants.

Describe a day’s food intake while training.
Well get ready for this:  Energy bar and juice before workout in the morning; one litre of protein smoothie and a bagel with peanut butter after workout; bowl of trail mix and coffee after nap; sandwich, apple, banana and cottage cheese for lunch;  powergels during second workout with Gatorade; another protein smoothie and energy bar after workout; snack of crackers, cheese, and veggies while I cook dinner; dinner with some sort of meat, salad, veggies, and quinoa or pasta; and later a snack of yogurt and nuts, or whatever I feel like.

What advice would you give to a young swimmer with Olympic hopes?
Have fun and enjoy the moment. It’s only a race.

If you weren’t a swimmer, what sport would you be active in and why?
I would have to say basketball because I have always loved to play and am pretty tall — so that would help.  When I am done swimming I plan on playing a lot of different sports for fun, such as golf, basketball, baseball, tennis, volleyball and snowboarding.

If you get the chance, what do you most want to see in London?
I would love to check out all the sights in London because I have never been, and I definitely want to get to some really old pubs with a lot of character.