Week 45: Laura Thompson

Student Recruiter


Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


Laura grew up in Port Perry, ON, spending her winters in a swimming pool or on a volleyball court and the summers racing triathlon.  As a kid, she was exposed to many sports including swimming, triathlon, snowboarding, beach volleyball, basketball, wakeboarding, mountain biking and running. As she grew up, swimming became her main sport where she competed at the National level for seven years.


Laura received an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, where she swam on a scholarship for the varsity women’s swim team. During her time as a Thunderbird, she was named team Captain for two seasons, helping lead the birds to three National Championships. Her dedication and commitment to UBC Athletics went beyond the pool.  She was the president of the Thunderbird Athletic Council (TAC) and received the Jama Mahlalela award for exemplary contribution to UBC Athletics by a student-athlete.


In recent years, her involvement with sport has shifted. To be able to share her passion for swimming, mentorship, and to pay it forward to the next generation, she has spent multiple summer seasons coaching a local Vancouver swim club. Every June she also helps organize a charity swimathon to raise money for Kidsport: a nonprofit organization that helps remove  financial barriers many families face to enter sport.


Outside of her athletic endeavours, she combines her love for travel and her Alma Mater by working as an International Student recruiter for UBC. In her role of Associate International Student Recruiter & Advisor, she connects with prospective students to provide pre-admission advising services and assist with their application process.


Since retiring from competitive swimming, she switched back to running, biking and swimming and represented Canada for U23 Age Group World Triathlon Championships. Today she spends her free time biking, practicing yoga, running and plans to complete some long course triathlons in the future.


What are you passionate about? How did you discover your passion? 


Teaching, mentoring, and advising are all passions of mine. Through sport I found myself in leadership positions which allowed me to mentor and guide a team to a common goal. Coaching swimming ignited my passion for teaching and helping athletes realize their potential in the pool. One of the things I love most about working in student recruitment is that I’m surrounded by young, vibrant, hard-working 14-18 year old kids. I love that I have the opportunity to impact the lives of our students.  To some extent I see mentoring others as a way of paying back those that have inspired, encouraged, advised, and listened to me over the years.


What skills did you learn through sport that has been most beneficial to your work today? Why?


Teamwork, self-awareness, and time management are the most beneficial skills that I learned through sport. TEAMWORK: Simply put, “There’s no I in team”. In sports you learn to work with others and appreciate how different talents can contribute to one goal. SELF AWARENESS: By identifying and understanding my own strengths and weaknesses, I have been able to prioritize my daily tasks and improve my efficiency. TIME MANAGEMENT: As a competitive swimmer, I had to juggle 5 hours of training a day with the demands of schoolwork, a part-time job, and social life. This prepared me for creating an appropriate work-life balance in the “real world”.


Sport teaches you a resilient, enduring mindset. If my travel schedule is grueling, or deadlines seem impossible to meet, I recall my 8 km Individual Medley swim practice mid-training camp in 40 degree heat. Surviving that training camp (and many more) defined mental toughness and endurance in a way that “real life” never could.


What is one piece of advice you would have for young female athletes today?


I’ll give you my three pieces of advice for the price of one on this one….


  1. Expose yourself to as many sporting experiences as possible and try not to feel pressure to specialize early. Develop physical literacy in a multitude of sports, because you will use these fundamental movement and sport skills throughout your entire life.
  2. Don’t hesitate to talk to people you admire for advice on development and performance. Coaches, older athletes on your team, or siblings/parents are often the perfect mentors.
  3. Finally, as cliché as it might sound,  make sure you are having fun. The daily grind of 4:43 a.m. wake-ups weren’t always desirable, however looking back I always enjoyed chatting with my teammates in the change rooms, pushing myself on new sets, or the inside jokes made in the hot tub. Make sure the hard times balance out with good times.