By Clarissa Andersen
Audrey Lacroix knew from a young age she loved swimming, was good at it and wanted to pursue it further. Often told she was too short to advance, Lacroix ignored the negative, followed her heart and held steadfast to what she believed she was capable of.
“You really need to not be too influenced by other people. When you want to do something, any dream, you need to really believe in it, know you want it, and not let anybody distract you from it or tell you that it’s impossible or that it won’t happen,”
— Audrey Lacroix
A 32-year-old butterfly specialist from Pont-Rouge, Que., Lacroix is a veteran in her sport and nearing the end of her swimming career. She believes, now more than ever, it is important to keep her competitive edge by taking risks and continuing to try new things.
“There’s a danger in doing things the way you’ve always done it and not trying something new. It can get in the way of your performance,” she says.
Lacroix undertook one such risk when she moved from Montreal to Toronto to train at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Ontario under head coach Ben Titley. While she sees herself as a leader and someone others on her team can learn from, she understands she must in turn keep learning.
“You can learn from everybody. I’ve learned things from some of the youngest on the team and I’m going to take that,” she said.
Although Lacroix has experienced many highs throughout her time as an athlete, she has also experienced some debilitating lows. Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in 2011, Lacroix seriously considered leaving swimming behind altogether.
“I’ve always been anxious but I think at one point I lost control of it. If I had said a couple of months earlier, ‘Guys I’m not feeling well, maybe I should talk to someone, see someone,’ then it would have helped me a lot,” she says.
“But I waited too long and when I raised that flag even my physical health was struggling and obviously my mental health wasn’t very good.”
After experiencing what anxiety can do to an athlete, Lacroix encourages others out there to let someone know if they are struggling mentally.
As a competitive swimmer Lacroix’s career has taken her around the globe where she has had many amazing moments. One of the biggest highlights thus far was winning gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I wanted it really bad and it was my goal, but I knew it was going to be hard and kind of a long shot. I wasn’t one of the favourites going into the race.”
Other moments she will never forget are winning gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, and of course being part of the three Canadian Olympic teams.
“When you get to the Olympics and you’re standing there on the blocks you know it’s that moment. You wanted to be there and then you’re there and you have to swim,” she says.
“You see the videos and you’re like oh yeah, I was one of these athletes. What I had the chance to live was pretty special. “
Moving forward Lacroix has her mind and training focused on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a top-8 finish and personal best time in mind as goals.
Fuel for thought with Audrey Lacroix
What does it take to fuel a woman champion? It takes training, support, determination, perseverance, drive, and of course a balanced diet filled with nutritious food including at least three servings of dairy daily. Here is a look inside what it takes to fuel Audrey Lacroix.
What type of training do you do aside from swimming?
We do weights because we need to get stronger, we’re doing a lot of core work, and we also do yoga once a week. There’s a rock-climbing wall here in the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre so we use that once a week and it’s great fun.
What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
I try to eat stuff that is really nutritious. I don’t have any food items that are forbidden for me, I don’t like to think that way. I never have a lot of one thing that is not good for me. I just eat everything in moderation so it makes me feel good because I’m not obsessing about food
What are some of your favourite things to eat?
My staple item is Greek yogurt. You can put it in smoothies, in your cereal and I really like it. Also I love cheese. My favourite is brie from a cheese factory near where my parents live. We have it with pears, cranberries, and nuts. We put it in the oven and then have it over bread or crackers.
Do you see yourself as a role model for young Canadian athletes?
It’s hard because I’m still competing, I’m still in it, I’m still trying to achieve things. I try to give back a little and for me the way I’ve found to be able to inspire other athletes and to give back to communities is to give speeches in high schools and even elementary schools about following your dreams.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you want to go?
I think I’d like to go to Paris.
To learn more about Audrey Lacroix’s accomplishments and career you can view her profile at https://www.swimming.ca/en/swimmer/4043702/.
Clarissa Andersen is an everyday woman, mom, writer and fitness enthusiast passionate about helping people live healthier and happier lives.