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.”
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.
“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…
Seems like a good time for a throwback to my time as a @varsityreds I was proud to wear this cap and represent my university. UNB has a proud history of striding towards excellence in academics and in athletics. The academic mission of the university is tied with athletics for many students. The City of Fredericton needs to work with UNB to build a replacement, not only for the students, but for the whole Fredericton community. #unb #onlyhere #nbproud #deepintheheart