Making a splash

How this college swimmer found his courage to come out in the pool

David Thibodeau could swim in front of thousands of spectators, but when it came to accepting his own sexuality, he struggled for years.

In a new essay published by Outsports, 22-year-old David explains that when he was a teenager, his mom pressured him to play sports, but he always felt “different” from the other kids.

Until he discovered swimming.

“At first swimming was just something I did, it wasn’t part of who I was,” he writes. “That quickly changed as I became faster and started practicing and competing more. Soon it was eight practices a week.”

Related: Olympic swimmer and TV personality comes out

After graduating high school, David was accepted into the University of New Brunswick, where he joined the swim team.

David remained in the closet during his first two years of college. It wasn’t until his junior year, when he started coaching other swimmers, that he began to accept his sexuality.

“Swimming helped me deal with emotions and feelings that I did not understand,” he writes. “It allowed me to clear my head and think for hours and hours. It was a mental break from having to hide who I was.”

He also met another coach who was openly lesbian, who had a huge impact on him.

Related: It wasn’t easy, but this gay college swimmer is now set to compete at the World University Games

“She showed me that I could be who I was with the utmost confidence,” he writes. “Not having to hide who I was around another person made me feel safer.”

Today, David is out and proud. He completed his undergraduate degree and is now completing his Masters in Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University where he is also a member of the men’s swim team.

Scroll down for a sampling from David’s Instagram page…

I can’t swim, can I borrow your floatie ?

A post shared by David Thibodeau? (@david_thibodeau) on

Enjoying the sites of Rome while enjoying lots of gelato ??

A post shared by David Thibodeau? (@david_thibodeau) on

It snowed and it's still on the ground, so I'm going to stay in bed

A post shared by David Thibodeau? (@david_thibodeau) on

Staying in bed today ???

A post shared by David Thibodeau? (@david_thibodeau) on

I don't say "hi", I say "keys to the Benz"

A post shared by David Thibodeau? (@david_thibodeau) on

On my worst behaviour at my fav place

A post shared by David Thibodeau? (@david_thibodeau) on