July 29, 2013
Two University of Michigan women's swimmers, rising junior Claudia Lau and rising sophomore Marni Oldershaw, recently returned from 10 days of competition (July 10-17) at the World University Games held in Kazan, Russia. Lau swam three events for her native Hong Kong, and Oldershaw competed in one for her native Canada. MGoBlue.com caught up with them following the games after they returned from Russia.
How did the World University Games prepare you for the upcoming Michigan season?
Lau: Competing with the best college swimmers around the world pushes me forward. It widened my perspective and helped me to set a higher goal for myself in the upcoming Michigan season.
Oldershaw: These games prepared me for the next season by requiring me to train very hard during the spring. Also, the international experience was enlightening and gave me some motivation to make the Canadian senior national team next year.
What was it like to represent your country?
Lau: It was a great honor to represent Hong Kong. More than that, the World University Games was very special to me because I was able to represent my two homes, Hong Kong and Michigan, at the same time.
Oldershaw: It was incredible to represent Canada. There is so much pride that comes with representing the maple leaf. Canada had one of the largest overall teams, and as a country we are making major improvements in sport. The swim team is so supportive and fun -- it was great and familiar to have a team behind me.
What experiences in international swimming will you share with your Michigan teammates?
Lau: Competitors in international swimming are very strong. I learned to be the best I can be and believe in myself. By doing so, you may surprise yourself with awesome results.
Oldershaw: I will share my stories of meeting foreign swimmers. Also, the Russians were so loud on my last 50 of my 400 IM because a Russian swimmer was winning; I had to take their cheers and pretend it was my team cheering for me.
What were some of your favorite parts of the World University Games?
Lau: My favorite parts were meeting up with my fellow Wolverines and getting to know athletes from other countries. The different college sport experiences that foreign athletes share always amaze me.
Oldershaw: Some of my favorite parts about the games were the dining hall and the Russian pastries they had there. Also, the energy that Team Canada was awesome to be a part of. Seeing our flag rise at multiple medal ceremonies was great. It was also awesome to see so many familiar faces on deck, so much of our staff and team was there and that was comforting (Michigan head coach Mike Bottom and associate head coach Josh White coached for Team USA, athletic trainer Keenan Robinson served on the Team USA staff, U-M alum Emily Brunemann swam for Team USA, and men's swimmers Sean Ryan, Michael Wynalda, Kyle Whitaker and Richard Funk swam at the games).
The Aquatics Palace looked like a great venue, how did you like it?
Lau: The venue was amazing! The two 50-meter pools provided lots of warm-up and cool-down space for swimmers.
Oldershaw: The competition venue was incredible. It was so huge! The pool felt very fast. The way it was set up for walk-outs before the final swims was really cool, too. The doors would open and close for every swimmer as they were announced. The stands were always filled; there were a couple of times during the meet they even had to ask the crowd to quiet down.
What sort of cultural experiences did you have in Russia?
Lau: Although not everyone speaks English in Russia, they are very friendly and have a strong interest in what we do. We even made a couple of Russian friends (in the city).
Oldershaw: A few days before the meet started we got a chance to visit a historical part of Kazan. The mosques and churches were beautiful. It was a wonderful chance to get away from the pool and experience Russia.
What did you do during your downtime in Russia?
Lau: We visited the Kremlin in Kazan. The churches and historical buildings were absolutely beautiful.
Oldershaw: I was done competing at WUGs after the first day, but I was still coming back to Canada to compete in our senior nationals, so I had to train. A lot of my downtime was spent relaxing with my teammates. I did get a chance to explore all of the village and go see other sports later in the competition.