VANCOUVER – Two-time Olympian Scott Dickens, the first Canadian to post a sub one-minute time in the 100-metre breaststroke, is retiring from competitive swimming after a 10-year career with the national team.
The 29-year-old former Ancaster resident retires as the Canadian record holder in both the 50-m and 100-m breaststroke in the long course pool.
“I’m going to miss my teammates the most,” said Dickens, who also competed at two Commonwealth Games, two Pan Am Games and three FINA World Championships. “I was very proud to represent the greatest country in the world for so many years and at such big events as the Olympic Games. It was a gradual decision to stop but I’m at peace with it now.”
Dickens qualified for his first Olympic team in 2004 but didn’t make the cut for the 2008 squad. It was the turning point in his career as he roared back with four solid seasons capped by an appearance at the 2012 Olympics. In London he clocked the historic 59.85 in the 100-m breaststroke.
“I wasn’t ready to retire in 2008, I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I wanted to be at the pool and I wanted to train. There was nothing I loved more than testing the limits of the human body. There was a challenge every day.”
After training in the U.S. for one year, Dickens decided to head back north to join the Vancouver Dolphins headed by Tom Johnson at the National Swim Centre – Vancouver.
“To be successful you have to surround yourself with successful people,” he said. “At the Dolphins, there was Brent Hayden, Mike Mintenko and Brian Johns. It was a professional atmosphere and it really drove me.’’
He was planning to continue in 2013 but he suffered a concussion in January while snowboarding at Whistler. That derailed his training for several weeks and he didn’t recover in time for the World Championships Trials in April.
The recent passing of his father, Bill Dickens, brought home the role his parents played in helping him balance athletics and academics.
“’They helped me learn the valuable lessons in life, particularly self-discipline,” said Dickens, who also recognized the large roles played by his coaches in Ontario and B.C., including national team coach Tom Johnson. “They encouraged me to keep swimming as long as I loved it. I was responsible for getting them up in the morning to bring me to the pool, not the other way around. And there was no swimming if I didn’t have good grades.”
Dickens, who married former national team member Michelle Landry two years ago, was also part of the RBC Olympian program. He worked with the company this summer as well speaking to branch managers about team building and working with their employees.
“You have to persevere through the ups and downs,” Dickens said. “You learn from your mistakes and focus on the task at hand.”