It's been almost exactly a month since Zsofi Balazs swam in the 2012 Summer Olympics, becoming the first Canadian to compete in the 10-kilometre marathon event.
Now, the 22-year-old Humber student, who came eighteenth out of the 22 competitors who finished the race, is turning her attention to another challenge: completing her Police Foundations diploma, with dreams of becoming a motorcycle cop.
And for Zsofi, swimming and police work have a lot more in common than you might think.
“Policing, like swimming, is never the same day to day,” Zsofi says. “You’re able to be an example, someone that stands out from the crowd. You have to be ready for the unexpected. And, of course, police work can be pretty competitive!”
Zsofi has been a competitive swimmer since she was a little girl, winning titles in her native Hungary and here in Canada – and she’s been interested in policing almost as long.
“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer, even from a very young age,” Zsofi says. “I had the guns, the badges, the toys – the only thing I didn’t have was a motorcycle.”
Combining her two loves hasn’t been easy. Although she took time off to train for the Olympics, she completed semesters one and two of her program while working on qualifying for the Games.
Zsofi credits Humber’s “incredibly helpful” faculty for helping her deal with her heavily regimented schedule.
“I’d have maybe five minutes to spare in any day – my schedule was regulated like a rocket launch,” she says. “I’d get up at 4 a.m., go to practice, get to school for 8 a.m., go back to practice at 4 p.m., have a quick nap, then study – then do it all over again. It was crazy. But my professors were flexible.”
Now that swimming’s over, Zsofi is tackling another intense test of her physical and mental skills: rappelling down a 17-storey building to raise money for Easter Seals.
In terms of the future, Zsofi says school will be her priority right now, but continuing to swim is also a definite possibility.
“Looking at my Olympic results from this year, I think I could do better with the knowledge I have now,” she says. “But no matter what I do – I made it to the Olympic Games. Eighteenth in the whole world is not a bad place to be.”