An Olympic Swimmer’s Worst Nightmare: A Real-Life Horror Story by Chris Walker-Hebborn

Happy Halloween from all of us at ProSwimwear! In honour of the Spookiest Season of the year, we have a behind the scenes real swimming horror story from Chris Walker-Hebborn! So buckle up, hold onto your goggles, and brace yourself… swimming has never looked so scary.


With Halloween around the around the corner I thought it would be a fine opportunity to share one of my most daunting moments within my swimming journey…

Rio 2016 Olympic Games, for those that are unsure, when “Games” are at the end of the competition title it means that all the athletes will be staying in a village environment. With so many sports spanning over a large area the IOC provide transport for all the athletes, usually in the form of busses that go to and from your required venue, whether that’s swimming or volleyball there is one for every sport and destination.

As you can imagine planning your day and route to and from your sporting venue is crucial to make sure you are there within enough time to do what you need to do, and more importantly not miss your race…

 Race day was upon us and it was time for me to get ready and make my way down to the transport mall. As you can imagine every athlete has their entire day mapped out when it comes to race day and I even gave myself buffers to account for potential errors and delays because the last thing you need on your Olympic race day is more stress.

My bag was packed, I had finished my meal and was now getting on the bus to the pool with all the other athletes and countries that were racing that day as well. I have to remind you that all the venues spanned over Rio so bus journeys could take 20/30mins in different directions depending on your destination. Chris Walker-Hebborn

20 minutes pass and we suddenly see the pool venue pass us by and realise that the bus was taking us somewhere else, as you can imagine this is 1) quite concerning from a safety standpoint and 2) your race day timeline was now compromised.

Athletes and staff took it in turn to try and explain to the driver that he was going the wrong way, but the language barrier proved to be a problem and also the drivers are instructed that under no circumstances do they change their route, so it turns out he thought he was going to the basketball stadium, and wasn’t going to stop till we got there. 

Once we arrived at the basketball stadium which was 30mins from the pool he was informed by security that this was wrong, and we had to make our way back to the pool.  I'm sure you can imagine the state everyone was in on the bus, athletes have trained day in and day out for 4 years all coming down to this one day, the levels of stress and anxiety were crazy.

Eventually we got to the pool (an hour later than planned for) and just had to make do with what time we had, shorted warm up and stretches, trying to de stress and re focus on the task at hand. It was most definitely one of the most challenging race days in my life, and it just so happened to be at the Olympics to add pressure to and already high-pressure situation.

Either way, I left Rio with a silver medal, so no complaints here!


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