Synchronized swimmer Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon's motivational secrets

The Olympic medallist tells us why waterproof mascara is so important and why she finds Canadian athlete Clara Hughes so inspiring

Two women in pool underwater synchronized swimming

Nathan Denette/CP Images

Age: 29
Sport: Synchronized swimming
Trains: 8 hours a day
Hometown: Rivière-du-Loup, Que.

To watch Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon dance in the pool with her fellow athletes on the senior national synchronized swim team is to witness a powerful combination of artistry and athleticism — along with a sea of million-dollar smiles. “Synchronized swimming is one of the hardest sports,” she says. “We do so many technical moves while holding our breath and trying to make it look effortless.” Marie-Pier encourages her team to go for the gold with every workout, and she knows what she’s talking about. The aquatic acrobat won two gold medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and another two in 2010.

Why this sport: “We feel like sisters. When we achieve something great, it means so much more knowing we did it together as a team.”

Top workout tip: “Find your own cheerleader. My mom and sister give me great motivational speeches whenever I need them.”

Girl crush: “I’m a big fan of Clara Hughes. She’s able to perform in two completely different sports, and so I find that so inspiring.”

Hard rocker: She once swam to a Metallica song.

Behind the (synchro) scenes: “We always wear waterproof makeup in competition. Artistic expression makes up 50 percent of our final mark from the judges. We want our eyes to pop so they can see our expressions from a distance.”

Her award-winning advice: “Wake up every day motivated to do something great.”

See more Olympic inspiration here.