Looking back to BHM: Magali Rousseau

Looking back to BHM: Magali Rousseau

Life Saver and swimmer Magali Rousseau (FRA) is one of the most successful athletes of all time at The World Games, when it comes to the number of medals. The Life Saving legend has won 6 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze since Cali 2013. And her career is not yet over! At The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama, she won gold in 200 m Super Lifesaver and silver in Manikin Relay. She is now Looking Back to Birmingham!

Magali Rousseau started her career as a swimmer, and she competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. “In 2011 I got a shoulder injury and didn’t qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. After that I was about to stop sport, and then I discovered Life Saving through some swimmers who were already doing it. I did my first competition in June 2012.” Rousseau grew to love the sport: “I love the diversity of our sport, the fact that it’s very technical, and also the story behind it.”

Rousseau has participated in three editions of The World Games. She enjoyed the event in Birmingham: “I loved The World Games 2022. I think what I loved the most about it was that the Organisation created an Athlete Village in the University of Birmingham. I loved the atmosphere, which I felt was pretty close to the one at the Olympic Games. I loved the kindness of all the volunteers and was really surprised by the Opening Ceremony. The Stadium was full of spectators and I will always remember when we entered the Stadium. For the best moment, I can also say that my 200 m Super Lifesaver podium was really special.

She continues by explaining the differences between The World Games and World Championships in Life Saving: “Our sport has 2 different parts: pool events (those that are at The World Games) and surf events (in the sea and on the beach). At the World Championships we have 3 days in the pool followed by 3 days at the beach. The first big difference is that we only have the pool events at The World Games, so we’ll only have pool specialists.

Also, at the World Championships we have individual results and podium, but in each race we also score points for our team (our country), which leads to a general podium at the end of the 6 days of competition. So we’re not only racing for ourselves but also for the team. At The World Games we don’t have this team competition and the way to qualify is also a bit different. Finally, The World Games are every 4 years, and the World Championships every 2 years.

Magali Rousseau was able to watch some other sports during her time in Birmingham, but would have loved to see more. “I saw RollerHockey, as we went to support the French Team after our competition. In 2017 I also saw some Sumo competition. There are so many sports I would have loved to watch! Just to name two of them: Parkour (which I watched on the live channel) and Flying Disc.” If she had to choose another sport of The World Games to compete in, she would choose Finswimming, because it is so close to Life Saving and swimming, and realistically the only one she now could compete in. “In another life, however, I’d love to do some climbing,” she says.

The time after The World Games can be challenging for athletes. This time, however, Magali Rousseau had another kind of challenge after the Games: “Usually after a big competition like The World Games, which we’ve been training and waiting for over many years, the days/weeks after are a bit difficult as the pressure releases. We usually feel a bit lost and down. For me, this year was different: with the changes made due to Covid, we ended up having our World Championships two months after The World Games, which is really unusual. So I just had to go back to training right after TWG, which I really loved. I’m also working as a freelancer as an instructor for Data Science training. Unfortunately I had no support this year from my federation to help me combine sport and my professional life, so after The World Games I had to go back to work, and put in as much time as possible, in order to manage to work less before and during the big competitions and thus prepare for them better.

The next edition of The World Games is almost around the corner – the 2025 Games will be organised in August 2025 in Chengdu, China. Magali Rousseau got several questions on social media, and in answering them also confirmed she might be still in the game to add more medals to her already convincing record:

Will we see you in Chengdu in 2025?

I’d love to take part in the Games in 2025!! I still love training and competing. And one fun fact: I probably did my best season this year at the age of 34! So I’m convinced that age isn’t a limiting factor at this point. The only reason that would make me stop is the difficulties I had this year combining my professional life and sports career.

What is your next goal in Life Saving?

At the World Championships I ruptured my cruciate ligament. I’m going to have to undergo surgery, possibly in January. My first goal is to recover quickly and get back to training as soon as possible! This year, before The World Games, I broke the World Record of the 200m Super Lifesaver by nearly 3 seconds. I still think I can do better and try to set a time that nobody thinks is possible to do. That would be a next goal!

Of the three editions of The World Games you’ve been to, which one was your favourite?

I loved the pool atmosphere in Cali. We had thousands of spectators cheering at the pool! It felt incredible. But for the village atmosphere and the organisation I think Birmingham will remain my favourite one!

How does Life Saving training differ from other swimming events?

Most of the training includes a big portion of swimming. What differs is that we will often use the material we use in lifesaving: the fins, the mannequin, the tow, and instead of alternating strokes we alternate the material used. We also often (once or twice a week) have sessions where we really only focus on the lifesaving techniques.

Bravo por tout! Comment avez-vous découvert le sauvetage et quest-ce qui vous y a poussé à?

Merci :) J’ai découvert le sauvetage en 2012 alors que je m’apprêtais à arrêter ma carrière de sportive de haut niveau (j’ai fait les Jeux Olympiques en 2008, en natation, sur 200m papillon et suite à une blessure à l’épaule en 2011 je ne me suis pas déqualifiée aux JO en 2012). Je voulais garder mon statut de sportive de haut niveau pour passer les concours passerelles en école de commerce et c’est comme ça que j’ai débuté le Sauvetage sportif. Au final j’ai continué pendant 10 ans!

Who was your favourite housemate back in Australia? :D

Haha tough question! I had the chance to live with 2 surf-lifesaving legends while I was in Australia (spent a bit less then 2 years over there), @kristyl_smith and @harrietbrown. Had such a good time with them :) (and also with my other housemates for sure !!)

Interested to know more? Magali Rousseau will take over The World Games Instagram stories on 27th December, and you will be able to ask the question you were missing here!

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.