'Dream really big' Martha McCabe, Canadian Olympic swim captain, advises young athletes

The co-captain of the Canadian Olympic swim team had a simple message for athletes in Thunder Bay: Dream big and fight through the challenges life throws your way, because the end result is always worth it.

McCabe was in Thunder Bay, Ont., speaking with Thunderbolt swimmers and parents about value of sport

Martha McCabe, co-captain of the Canadian swim team for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, stands beside the pool at the Canada Games Complex in Thunder Bay, Ont. McCabe was at the pool to speak with young athletes about the value of staying in sports. (Cathy Alex/CBC )
Dream big, and fight through the challenges life throws your way because the end result is always worth it.That's the message the co-captain of the Canadian Olympic swim team brought to athletes in Thunder Bay Martha McCabe is drivin 8:01
The co-captain of the Canadian Olympic swim team for the Rio 2016 Summer Games had a simple message for athletes in Thunder Bay, Ont. on Tuesday: Dream big and fight through the challenges life throws your way, because the end result is always worth it.

McCabe is crossing the country on Martha's Canadian Drive, with stops at schools, community centres and swimming pools, to talk with young people, especially girls, about the value of participating in sports.

She encourages the athletes to look at their time in sports as an investment in themselves, and their future.

'Amazing feeling' to work toward dream

"It's allowed me to push myself to limits I never knew were possible. It's allowed me to dream, and dream really big, and whether or not I really came through with those dreams, it's such an amazing feeling to push yourself, every single day, towards a dream," she said.

Being active in sport can help young people feel better about themselves, explained McCabe, because it allows them to make new friends, build confidence and see what's possible with a little effort.

Julia Gerry, 12-years-old, is a swimmer with the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts. She said it was a "special experience" to hear Canadian Olympic swimmer Martha McCabe speak about sports and chasing your dreams. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

"Because it's easy for other people to tell you you can't do something - maybe it's because you're too big or too small, too tall or too short. It doesn't really matter what other people say and especially when you're going through high school, you might have peers telling you things and it's trying to just focus on yourself and focus on what you can do well."

For 12-year-old Julia Gerry of the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts Swim Club, which hosted McCabe's presentation, hearing this wisdom from a young, successful female athlete was a "special" experience.

"I think it's really important, because they're giving you lots of encouragement and giving you help on how to do things better," Gerry said.

'Keep doing your best'

She also appreciated advice from McCabe on how to handle the ups and downs of competition.

"If you have a bad meet, or a bad day, or a bad race even, not to let that put you down and just try to go harder and keep doing your best," Gerry said.

McCabe won silver in the 200-metre breaststroke at the 2015 Toronto PanAm Games.

Listen to Martha on Superior Morning