Danish Swimmer Sarah Bro is holding her breath, though not underwater. Like the rest of the world, she waits with anticipation for the 2020 Olympics, which is currently scheduled to take place in the summer of 2021. This time, Sarah won’t be diving into the pool. Instead she will take part in the hosting of the Olympic games as an expert and former professional swimmer on Danish TV. We have sat down with Sarah to get the inside scoop on her new role awaiting while looking back on her career as a professional athlete.
Sarah Bro is sitting by her laptop. She looks at her Instagram feed, ready to press “publish” on a video, that will conclude her decision to retire as a professional swimmer. She has been ready to do it for months, but looking at the screen, Sarah is overwhelmed by emotion. It feels like the end, but it isn’t. It is only the beginning for the Danish swimming champion.
How do you feel about your new awaiting role as danish host for the 2021 Olympic Games?
Sarah: “For the longest of times, I had been frustrated with swimming. I had lost my connection to the sport and felt confused about my professional situation. As a person, I am driven by my urge to do better. Losing my motivation for swimming meant that all my energy just went into nothing, because I just kept on swimming anyway. One day, my agent called me with the most incredible job offer. I was to host the 2020 Olympics for Danish TV. I was quite taken aback at the news and asked my agent: “You know that I am going to the Olympics to compete, right?”. Well, my agent knew how long I had been frustrated with swimming, so she suggested that we do the meeting and listen to the offer. After sitting down with the people from the Danish television company, I had a month to decide whether I would be accepting the job position. But a few days after the meeting, I knew that this was right for me. So I accepted the offer.”
Throughout the early winter months in 2020 Sarah prepared for the job that was to come in the Summer months. But just like the rest of the world Coronavirus set a momentarily stopper for the host-to-be.
How has the current world situation affected your life?
Sarah: “I had not imagined this scenario. I mean, I had hoped for a more smooth transition from professional swimmer to host, but with Coronavirus affecting us on a global scale I have to be patient and wait for 2021. It does leave a lot of unresolved frustrations, but I think that it is quite normal to feel during a pandemic.”
What are your expectations for the Olympics in 2021 as a TV host?
Sarah: “I expect that it will be an exceptional experience. I see this job as a great opportunity for me, and for that, I am thankful. I mean, it might be the stepping stone I have been looking for into a new career path - who knows? Currently, I am just focussing on preparing myself for the role as athlete expert.”
What in particular do you hope to contribute with as an expert? Is there something specific you hope to achieve?
Sarah: “Being at the Olympics is a serious business for a lot of people - athletes, coaches, experts and so on. I hope I can bring some lightness, fun and good energy that will make people appreciate and enjoy all the athlete’s efforts. Also, I want to give people the backstage insights. How things are; the moods, preparations and people who all give so much of themselves in every competition. On Television, people only see 50 seconds out of 4 years of hard work. For most athletes, the preparations go back even longer. I wish to bring those efforts into focus for the viewers.”
Looking back on her time as a professional athlete, Sarah doesn’t regret her decision to leave. Instead, she sees this time as a possibility to regain trust in her decision to go a new direction. Even though she doesn’t actively swim, Sarah still thinks dearly of her sport and the people who supported her.
How did people receive the news of you ending your athletic career?
Sarah: “All in all, it has been very overwhelming. I broke the news in an interview with TV2 Echo. When I did the interview, I didn’t think much of it. But after I shared the interview on my Instagram, my phone wouldn’t stop buzzing. Calls, texts and messages from colleagues and my swimming friends from all over the world popped up. Even parents called me to say thank you for being a great role model. I was taken aback and kept thinking: “I can’t believe I have been somebody’s role model?”. The experience was very confirming, and the support and positive feedback means a lot to me.
How does it feel to know that you have had an impact on so many people?
Sarah: “I feel very proud and touched. When I was a professional swimmer, I was filled with doubt about my abilities to perform well. I let my frustrations get the best of me. Now I think, how can somebody look up to me, when I can’t even be proud of the thing I have accomplished? It has made me want to find acceptance and be truly happy. It always makes me happy to meet fans.
How has your mindset changed after you decided to break off your professional swimming career?
Sarah: “I see myself as a person with a massive drive for the things I do. There have been times in my life where I haven’t been able to stop pushing myself until it was too late. Afterwards, I felt terrible, almost sick. So, at the moment, I am trying to reduce the amount of stress in my everyday life, just giving myself time to find calmness to make the right decisions. But it isn’t easy. I am still full of ambition and wish I could be a thousand places at once, and that isn’t easy when you only have two arms and two legs.
So, who has been your role model in elite swimming?
Sarah: “I believe that I have found inspiration in the best of the Danish swimming talents and used that to better my performance. I look up to the working morals of Rikke Møller Pedersen, and Jeanette Ottesen has the most remarkable ways of creating the best conditions for herself during sporting events. Over the years, I have seen many talented swimming athletes becoming world champions; therefore, you can always find someone to admire.
What do you think will be your legacy to professional swimming?
Sarah: “I hope I have sparked a new desire for many talented young boys and girls to join the swimming sport. For me, I wanted to show how it is your passion for the sport that should motivate you. Sports can sometimes be intense, but I wanted to show that it can also be fun and playful. During my teenage years, I chose to attend high school, which many athletes don’t. I have shown people that it is possible to work on your athletic career and still get an education. As an athlete, you can live life as a whole person with school and friends, and still win medals.”
As a professional athlete, what advice would you give to our readers?
Sarah: “Sport and especially swimming is completely driven by your devotion to and enthusiasm for it. You have got to want it, 100 percent! Therefore you need to commit your mind and body to this goal. Your love for the sport determines the success of your swimming performance, and you need to want it in your heart unconditionally to get to the top.”
About Sarah Bro
Sarah Bro, 24, former Danish professional swimmer is moving on to a future out of the pool and into the role as host of the 2020 Olympics for Discovery Networks Denmark, which is currently postponed to 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. To learn more about Sarah, you can follow her social media through @Sarahwbro on Instagram.