Thunderbirds swimmer Markus Thormeyer is the first male swimmer from UBC to be named to Team Canada for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics, his second Olympics since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
He has been guaranteed a spot competing in the 200 meter backstroke and hopes to qualify for more events — the 100 meter backstroke and the 100 meter freestyle — at the Canadian Olympic Trials in May.
“I’m excited to go back again,” said Thormeyer. “I feel like I’m a better athlete and swimmer this time around, so I think I’ll do better than last time.”
Now in his fifth year studying environmental science, Thormeyer began his first year of university less than two weeks after representing Canada and placing seventh in the men’s 4x100 relay at the Rio 2016 Olympic games.
In his university career, he has earned 25 medals at the U Sports Swimming Championships — 23 of them gold — and has contributed to UBC’s Championship titles in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Thormeyer currently trains at the High Performance Center in Vancouver with other members of the Canadian National Swim Team, and has represented the country in multiple international events during his time at university.
Earlier in January, he was named a Top 8 Academic All-Canadian. To earn Academic All-Canadian honours, student-athletes must maintain an 80 per cent average or higher while competing for one or more of their school’s varsity teams. The top 8 are then selected, with one male and one female athlete from each of the four U Sports Conferences — Canada West, Ontario University Athletics, Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec and Atlantic University Sport.
Thormeyer admits — it’s been a lot of work and discipline. He trains almost 30 hours per week and then goes home and studies.
“I think I was only able to do all that because I really liked my degree and my program that I’m in,” said Thormeyer. “I really enjoy going to lectures and learning about environmental science.”
He struggled quite a bit with adjusting to university life and acknowledges the support of his professors and TAs — despite him normally missing about five weeks per semester due to travel — in helping him get to where he is today. “I appreciate them the most right now,” said Thormeyer.
Despite the Olympic nomination, Thormeyer’s academic plans have not changed.
“I'm still going to do my best in school and still train really hard. So just keep in the usual plan,” said Thormeyer.
He graduates in the spring, and plans to take a year off afterwards before applying to grad schools around the world for ecology programs to further his studies. But for now, he’s looking forward to the Olympics.
“I’m excited to race at a higher level and compete at a higher level than last time and make more of a name for myself on the Olympic stage.”