Story by UBC Alumni Affairs – Trek Online July/August 2012
When Scott Dickens was growing up he loved being in the water, so his parents thought swimming lessons would be a good idea. By the age of 10, he was winning provincial swimming championships and by 12 knew he wanted to compete in the Olympics.
In 2000, Dickens qualified for the Olympic Trials in Montreal, but failed to qualify for the Olympics after finishing last in the men’s 100-metre breaststroke. He was 15. Afterwards, he told his mom that next time he’d win. Four years later in Toronto, Dickens not only won his first national title at the 2004 Olympic Trials but beat the qualifying standard to earn his first trip to the Olympic Games (Athens) where he finished 19th in the 100 metre breaststroke.
Dickens credits his competitive drive as the catalyst that’s helped him get to where his is today – and that’s in London about to compete in his second Olympic Games in the men’s 100 metre and 200 metre breaststroke and the men’s medley relay.
What is your most prized possession?
It would have to be my first Olympic ring. It means so much to me because I worked so hard to get it.
Who was your childhood hero?
Michael Jordan. I loved watching him play basketball.
Describe the place you most like to spend time.
Either here in Vancouver on a sunny day with my wife, or in Maui on a beach soaking in the sun
What was the last thing you read?
The magazine beer west about craft beers and home brews
What or who makes you laugh out loud?
My wife always knows how to make me laugh and crack a smile. I am really lucky to have her.
What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?
Life is too short to not enjoy yourself. We only get one life and one go so we might as well enjoy it and go after our dreams and have fun.
What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Sleeping in with my wife, going for a swim outside, and then enjoying the day outside at a beach or on a patio
What was your nickname at school?
My most common nickname was just my last name, Dickens. And then I had the odd “Scotty Too Hotty,” ha ha.
What would be the title of your biography?
It would be Never Give Up. Those words mean a lot to me because they inspired me to keep swimming after I missed the 2008 Olympic team.
If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
It would have to be a free house in Vancouver on the beach with a bottomless keg in the basement.
What item have you owned for the longest time?
Probably the first medal I ever won for swimming when I was seven years old
What is your latest purchase?
A backpack for travelling this summer after the London Olympics
Whom do you most admire (living or dead) and why?
I admire my parents because they were the ones who gave me the opportunity to swim, and without them doing that I would never have made it to the Olympics.
What would you like your epitaph to say?
“Quit crying and grab a beer” or “Never Give Up”
If you could invent something, what would it be?
I would invent a time machine because I think it would be so cool to go back in time to see everything or into the future to see what the world is like years from now.
In which era would you most like to have lived, and why?
I would want to live in this era because I love all the opportunities and thing we have available to us.
What are you afraid of?
I am not the biggest fan of spiders and bees – they just creep me out.
Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.
I would love to able to play the guitar and learn how to surf.
Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?
It doesn’t really matter which three pieces of music I would take to a desert island because, no matter what they were, they would drive me crazy because I would get so sick of them. But if I had to choose I would probably take the Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Stadium Arcadium.
Which famous person (living or dead) do you think (or have you been told) you most resemble?
My wife and friends say I look a lot like Roberto Luongo.
What is your pet peeve?
Being late for anything. Bad drivers. Poor service at restaurants.
Describe a day’s food intake while training.
Well get ready for this: Energy bar and juice before workout in the morning; one litre of protein smoothie and a bagel with peanut butter after workout; bowl of trail mix and coffee after nap; sandwich, apple, banana and cottage cheese for lunch; powergels during second workout with Gatorade; another protein smoothie and energy bar after workout; snack of crackers, cheese, and veggies while I cook dinner; dinner with some sort of meat, salad, veggies, and quinoa or pasta; and later a snack of yogurt and nuts, or whatever I feel like.
What advice would you give to a young swimmer with Olympic hopes?
Have fun and enjoy the moment. It’s only a race.
If you weren’t a swimmer, what sport would you be active in and why?
I would have to say basketball because I have always loved to play and am pretty tall — so that would help. When I am done swimming I plan on playing a lot of different sports for fun, such as golf, basketball, baseball, tennis, volleyball and snowboarding.
If you get the chance, what do you most want to see in London?
I would love to check out all sites in London because I have never been, and I definitely want to get to some really old pubs with a lot of character.