For Singapore Youth Olympic Games multi-medalist Rachel Nicol, swimming has always been just fun. Taking to the sport like a duck to water (quite literally), the Canadian was four when she began pursuing swimming competitively.
“Swimming was just there,” said the 18-year-old, whose father swam professionally for Scotland. “My parents never told me 'you have to choose,' they let me figure it out on my own."
After falling just short of qualifying for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games aged 15, Rachel set her sights on Singapore 2010, where she won not one, not two, but three medals (one gold and two bronze).
"It was an experience of a lifetime,” she fondly remembered. “My favourite memory would probably be when I knew I was going to win the 50 breaststroke. “I saw the girls beside me and they were a really behind – and I knew 'now, I can do this’."
Since Singapore, the multi-record setter and Alberta junior female athlete of the year has been training hard to secure her place on the Canadian swim team for London 2012, but has managed to retain a genuine relaxed attitude towards her sport.
“I just want to see where swimming can take me,” the modest athlete explained.
Indeed, as well as taking her to Singapore, swimming will also take her to the USA next fall where she has received a scholarship to a university in Dallas.
"Swimming doesn't last forever, so you need a good education,” Rachel added.
But while it does last, Rachel seems determined to enjoy every second and all going well could be laughing all the way to London 2012.
By YOG Young Reporter Kimiya Shokoohi