Life Enhancing Lessons from Sports
Oct. 15, 2021

S2 E10: “The Forever Athlete” feat. Myriam Glez

S2 E10: “The Forever Athlete” feat. Myriam Glez

French + Australian Olympian + UK Coach + USA CEO = Advocate for Retired Athletes


In today’s episode of SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE, John Moffet is joined by French Olympian, Australian Olympian, United Kingdom Coach, and United States Synchronized Swimming Chief Executive Officer,  Myriam Glez.

On the podcast, Myriam shares stories from her international journey through sports and her new mission to help athletes transition out of sports and into fulfilling and balanced lives. 

Learn more about Athletes Soul:
https://www.athletessoul.org/

Thanks to our episode sponsor, Roka! Use code "SLB" for 20% off your purchase at Roka.
https://www.roka.com/

Transcript

INTRO:

Here we go. You know what time it is. It's another episode of SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I feel that a lot of athletes kind of get lost for too long sometimes, you know, up to 10 years of like drifting in between jobs and not figuring out, you know, what's their next step. And maybe they need just that little bit of help to give them some direction so that they can thrive as much in their next life as they did when they were athlete. And to be honest, my personal experience is a good example of I, you know, left the sport early, I could have gone on and do two or three more Olympics with France and had a completely different sporting career. But everything that happened after my retirement was exceptional. And it was as exceptional as what I did in my sport. And so I would like for people to have hope that what they can do plus sport will be as exceptional as what they did in their sporting career.

JOHN MOFFET:

Introducing French Olympian, Australian Olympian, United Kingdom coach and former United States synchronized swimming Chief Executive Officer, Myriam Glez. Yes, you heard me correctly. That's four different countries. How did she do that? Well, you'll just have to listen to find out. I'm John Moffet, and I'm so happy that you're here for another fascinating episode of SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE. Myriam was born and raised in France and fell in love at first sight. With synchronized swimming. she excelled through the ranks as a teenager, and competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. However, soon after, Myriam was forced to choose between her Olympic aspirations and her education. And she chose the ladder. Myriam's adversity sent her on a passionate and circuitous international journey through many careers, eventually landing here in the United States, and embarking on yet another mission, this one, to help athletes transition out of sports and into fulfilling and balanced lives. Myriam, I'm so glad you joined us here today and sports life balance.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Thank you, John, for having me. I appreciate it.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, I've been I've, I've always loved our conversations, you know, over tea, or lunch and things like that. And I've thought that, you know, your thoughts and notions about sports are always very insightful, because you've done so much within sports in your lifetime.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, and we had good conversation, I think, from the perspective of different countries and from the athletes to coach to manager side. So it's always been interesting, right to have the conversation from different angles. And I think you were many of those different hats as well. So it's been pretty good to talk about that. Right?

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, thanks. I mean, yeah, I mean, I'm a believer that sports can really positively affect people's lives and the lessons from, you know, that, that everyone learns from sports, whether you're a spectator or a lifelong athlete, or you just did sports as a kid.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Absolutely. And, and I obviously agree with that. But also, I think whatever you have gathered from your sports life, is what you carry on with you for the rest of your life. So I know we talked about being like an athlete of former athletes, but but the reality is, I don't think there is a break between the two, right? You'll continue carrying that life with you through the rest of your life.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, just because you're not a physical athlete does not take the athlete out of your mindset and how you've been conditioned throughout the first portion of your life.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Exactly. And I like that you're saying that the physical athlete, I never thought about it. Someone called us the forever athlete, which I think is a good way to, to talk about it. Is that that mindset that you carry on for the rest of your life past, you know, your physical accomplishment?

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, for sure. You know, you told me some exciting news. Earlier this this summer, that Team USA national team synchro is going to be coming to Los Angeles, headquartered in Los Angeles, I mean that I think that's pretty cool. Is it because of the 2028 games coming up, and they think it's going to be good environment for the athletes?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, I think that was an objective that kind of came from a few years back. The team is currently training in the Bay Area at one of their high school and the idea was always to perhaps come down to LA, leading up to the LA '28 games, just for the more more opportunities and taking advantage of being in the center of where the games are going to be held. So I think it's super exciting for them to be done here. There is a large sinco community here of former Have master athletes and co athlete a few different clubs but just the ability to be training at one of the university is amazing and it was certainly kind of leveled up the just the setting of where they're training compared to being at a high school

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah it's the facilities are second to none at UCLA truly and and the expectations and the atmosphere here in Los Angeles it seems to really breed athletes

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Absolutely. And there'll be exposed to a lot of the other athletes top level swimmers in water polo player I think it's really nice for them to see that be alongside some of the athletes that will compete in LA in 2018 and the weather is another element too that's going to help them out a lot through less rain less not as as hot as the East Bay was Yeah, maybe less impact from the fires as well they were really impacted by the fires in addition to COVID so I think that's going to be a great location.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well synchro synchro swimmers athletes are near and dear to my heart I was exposed to them early on in my career because we I don't know if they still do but back in the '80s we would travel often with the synchronized swimmers and the divers but we and we would be utilizing the same facilities so you know I got to know the various athletes at you know Pan Am Games for World Championships and for the Olympics and and they would we'd be done with training and they would love to try to teach us some of the skills and you know we're obviously know how to we have a good feel for the water we're all strong but man oh man, is it hard to do those skills? Get your legs up out of the water like that it's just crazy how hard the just the most basic elements of synchronized swimming are

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah I think the the upside down like if you're used to being kind of flat on the surface or isn't all in the water but just being upside down and figuring out like your your spatial awareness upside down that's definitely a skill to learn and recognizing where you are in the board. Yeah, it's much more complex and then we imagine I had the same experience as you so we even growing up in France in competing with the French national team we trained at the National Training Center in shared the pool with the divers the swimmers water polo player Yeah, we traveled with them to wear championship but also to European Championship. So I think a lot of the aquatic sport or are usually pretty close just because they have to travel to the same competition together Yeah,

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah. And were you envious of of your French swimmers and their toe point because I know the Americans would marvel at the toe points of all of the swimmers because swimmers have notoriously flexible ankles.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, I don't know if we looked so much at their toe point to be honest, I was a teenager when I was training at the training center so I was probably looking at all the um but yeah, you're right, the swimmers have really flexible ankles. We were actually I was sharing the pool with the water polo team and the divers and then the swimmer had their own pool. And I think the only reason it was said this way is because we needed hotter waters and then the swimmers so the the swim pool for the swimmers was really cold. And we did not like to practice in that pool. But we like sharing with the divers and in the Polo.

JOHN MOFFET:

You definitely overheat when you're swimming. I mean that's like people think oh, you stay nice and cool. But no, no, no, if the waters just a degree too hot, it's miserable. Well, I'd like to go back to when you started your career in synchronized swimming, you were rather young, what made you What made you interested in doing synchronized swimming?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So I started when I was six. I actually so a synchronized swimming competition on TV. I think it was the European Championship there was on TV on just on major TV channel. And I said to my mom, this is this is what I want to do. And I think her answer was like, No, the club is too far. I'm not driving you. And I think for about a year and I was probably five years old and for about a year. I told her probably every single day this is what I want to do. Well she gave up and was like, Okay, I will take you to the tryout and that's how I started.

JOHN MOFFET:

So that intrepid personality that we all know now was alive and well even back when you were a little kid.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I was I was really clear. I mean, I had like this revelation I was I was playing tennis I hate absolutely hated it. I was not good. I was distracting, I think in the entire group. And I think that's when my mom realized, okay, I have to switch her into something else. But yeah, I saw this on TV. And I was pretty clear. Like, this is what I want to do. I love the water. This sounds great. At the time, a friend had a pretty good synchronized swimmer on the podium at European. So that was also the inspiration. And then I went to the strikeout and I remember trying so hard for that coach, he was in, in like a really deep pool. And at six, you're not a great swimmer. She was asking me to swim, backstroke, breaststroke freestyle. And I remember doing freestyle didn't know how to breathe to the side. So I pretended to like turn my head and breathe, but I wasn't breathing. So it was like doing the whole thing, not breathing. And I think she realized that and she immediately told my mom, like, she really loves the water. And we want to have her in our group. So kind of love at first sight, I guess.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, oh, no, I completely relate. And there's a lot of stories like that, that I hear from athletes that there's just something within them that is fulfilled by this particular sport, for whatever reason.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

And it's, it's interesting, because it's not something I had tried before, I was a good swimmer. I played in the water a lot. I had, I spent my summer at my uncle's house and swimming in their pool all the time. But I never tried synchronized swimming, and I didn't even know what it was. But just seeing on TV, it was like, okay, that's, that's what I want to do.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, at some point, too, I mean, you, you realize that you're good enough, and you want to take it someplace, how old do you think you were when you started realizing, okay, I want to dedicate myself to this, I want to sacrifice being a normal kid growing up. And I might be able to take this far, when did you start realizing that,

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I think really, really early on, really. So in the first few years, I would do the training with my group of young girls. But I would also watch the competitors that were training next to us. And I was trying to practice their skills. So whatever they were training, I was trying to reproduce. And at the end of the session, I would show my coach a I can do the same as these guys. So really early on, I had that desire to be the the older girls next to me and the competitors. And they moved me in a competitive group pretty quickly. So I was often the youngest in that group. And I was always using the older athlete as an example of what I wanted to do. And I think as early as, I think at 11 years old, I told one of my teammates who was probably 15, or 16, you know, she said, Oh, what do you want to do when you grew up? And I said, I want to go to the Olympics. So really early on, I said, This is my goal. And I think in my sixth grade paper, I wrote something to the teacher in an essay saying this was my goal. And the teacher complained to my parents that this was an unrealistic goal. And I've caused a sixth grader, I should not entertain.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, but that's I mean, it's outlandish when you think about it.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

But it was it was, so it was pretty early on. And I think I was always committed and driven. Whenever there was an opportunity to do more, to attend another weekend training or another day of training training during the week, I would always put my hand up. And I never saw it as a sacrifice. It was more, oh, I've got this great opportunity to actually get better. Why not do it. So it was never, I never thought I was compromising anything else. I was just enjoying myself and doing more of it, you know, well, that

JOHN MOFFET:

commitment and drive as the as you point out, it started taking you places so you were starting to be when you became part of the French national team. And then you started going to these international competitions, which that's really eye opening when you start competing on the world stage not just looking at your competitors in your club.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, the and that started pretty early because I joined some of the youth national teams. So 12 was my first US national team, which was the junior team at the time and I was a year younger than the the accepted age. So they I had to have like a an exemption to be on that group. So I was competing a level up. And pretty much from that moment. I was always on the national team every every summer so I would do like the normal competitive season and then do the summertime with the national team. And then I joined the training center when I was 15 So I remember that summer, it was not really planned. The way it works in France is you get an invitation from the Federation to join the program, you can have never really know at what time it's going to come. But when it comes, you can't really reject it. Yes, that's your chance to make it to the next level. And so we got that letter, probably at the end of July. And I needed to be there mid August,

JOHN MOFFET:

and do go away for that. I mean, so absolutely.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I was from Leon in the south of, you know, in the middle of France, had to go to live in Paris. So it's going to a boarding school, or, or any university, but I don't think we expected it to be so early on, right. But that year, they had decided to have some younger athletes join the training center to prepare for the Junior World Championship together. So that was it.

JOHN MOFFET:

I'm always I'm always I'm used to the American system, which is very different than the way other national teams work in a vast majority of the countries around the world, France, of course, being one of them. Where there is a state sponsored program. It's totally different than here that it's the community. It's mom and dad, it's the schools. Yep. who are supporting the athletes here in the United States. It's

MYRIAM GLEZ:

completely different. I was already exposed to it, because you have little steps before that, before going to the National Training Center. So I changed school to go into a sport school to finish earlier during the day. So I could train afterwards that that could be kind of your first step. Yeah. And then the next step is, if you don't have a competitive or bigger club in your area, you would move to a local training center. So that would be like kind of your right, an interview prep, before you get to the National Training Center. So I think it's, you're right, it's completely different. And it's less driven by your, your personal family, and more by that that club or local community. Right,

JOHN MOFFET:

right. Yeah. I mean, a lot of people don't realize that. Well, you know, it turns out in 2000, that outlandish idea that you had in sixth grade was not so outlandish. You ended up going to your first Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. Yep. Tell me about that. So

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I had, so you're right. When I moved to the National Training Center, in my head, I was like, Okay, I have four or five years to the games. And that would be my goal, right? There was a, a pretty old orders in athletic terms, generation of athletes in in the team that went to Atlanta. And so in my head, it was like, okay, quite a few of them will retire. What can I do to take their sport because I'm, I've got my eyes on Sydney, right. And I was, that was my goal, I was pretty driven for it. I had mapped out kind of my schoolwork to work around the games and the timing. Well, I would, you know, graduate from high school in two years before the game, and then I was planning to like, do two years of study and take a year off oil for the Olympics. So I had like, put everything in place, basically, to get to that point. I don't think I've ever thought of a any other plan. To be honest, I didn't have a plan B, or C or anything else. Well,

JOHN MOFFET:

which is, which is the way most athletes are. And that will lead us to what we're going to talk in talk about a little bit, which is the whole retirement issue when you finally leave the sport. So tell me about the games in in 2000. Sydney. How was that competing in your first games?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

It was absolutely amazing. First of all, that I think that was the furthest that we've ever traveled. So having the game the games in Australia, I think that was amazing. I always dreamt to go visit Australia and New Zealand. So I was really happy. We took a few trips ahead of the games to Australia for the Olympic qualifiers, but also for training camps. But the games it was it was absolutely amazing. And I I think also, those were games that were pre 911, right? So the atmosphere was completely different. Having them in Australia in a country where people are just absolutely in love with sport in general and they'll do anything for it. But also the fact that it was a smaller city. I think there were a lot of things that made those games. I don't want to say casual but it had a different energy. Maybe it was their security was very friendly. It was wonderful. I had a fantastic experience and obviously resolved the aspect that athletes don't About I mean, being for the first time in the Olympic Village, going into the opening ceremony. Swimming, the swimming was interesting because you know, Synchronized Swimming is not a really popular sport. There's only a few countries where you get big crowds, right? And being at the Olympics, it's like it's for we never swim in a pool with this, you know, the stadium full, full all the way. So that was that was interesting. Yeah, lots of things that are memorable.

JOHN MOFFET:

As far as the competition goes, now, I happen to know that you ended up fourth, which is just off the podium.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, there's lots to say about the competition. We, first of all, this was the best result we've had in years. Wow. So for, for me finishing fourth was a win, it wasn't a loss of the bronze medal, even though we were extremely close to it, because it was really the if one judge had given us like a nine, seven, instead of a nine, six, we would have been on the podium, right? So it was super close. But we had been fighting to climb the ranking for like three years, and we were stuck always at like five or six. Yeah. So being able to actually actually accomplish even one spot up at the Olympics was already a win. Yeah. And we had a great swim. I also we were performing an acrobatics that nobody had done before. And I was the one on top of that. So we were basically projecting it was a feet two feet lift. So there was one person upside down, and I was standing on her feet and coming up out of the water on her feet. And we had worked so hard for that left, it was very risky. So literally, like just being able to do this and do it properly was a win in itself. So I was pretty happy that we were able to do that and and also get a fourth place was great.

JOHN MOFFET:

I love that. And so many athletes come away from the games, you know, because they've worked their entire lives. And, you know, it could certainly be looked at as a disappointment to get forth. I mean, there's a lot of athletes who would, who would have a hard time with that. So it's it's great that you had a fantastic experience, both at the games and competing at the games.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

And you know, I think what was interesting too, is I didn't my goal was to go to the Olympics, I didn't have a placement in mind. Wow. I was still like, focused on these dream of a kid of like, I want to go to the Olympics, and have fun and enjoy the experience and really take it all in. And so I really went there with that mindset of like, I'm going to try to have my best swim. I'm going to try to enjoy every second of it. I'm going to, like soak in everything from the opening ceremony. And that would be a great Olympics. Yeah, no,

JOHN MOFFET:

that's great. I love that. Well, we all know that. Like when it's over, it can be a bit of a letdown. How did you feel after you know, you accomplish this thing that you set out to do is for years and years and years? Did you did you retire after after?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So I did not retire after 2000. And in hindsight, I think I have a different reading of it. And then when it happened, so we were nine there were nine of us on the team seven retired, there was two of us left, I ended up being promoted to swim the pair with the other athlete who is the best synchronized swimmer that they've ever been. And she's won, you know, three times the World Championship. So I kind of like was taken into this. Well, one pretty quickly after the games we had, you know, three weeks off, I went back to school, and then I was told everybody retired and I was gonna be promoted to the duet. And we started training. And I had a lot to catch up on because she is the best synchronized swimmer in the room, right? So I went right into it, and started training for the next cycle with the goal to swim that pier at the Olympics in Athens. And she had just won a bronze in in Siena in the pair. So we had a bronze in to do and have a fourth place in the team. So I didn't really ask myself many questions and I didn't really think about you know, I didn't have time to think about anything really went back to school got busy. And in hindsight, I think that's also why my next two years were pretty hard and never had the chance to recalibrate. What I wanted to do, I came, I came off a major accomplishment and a major competition. And I had achieved my goal. And I never thought, okay, what's my next goal? Right. And I think I was just like in this process and pursuing my coach's goals, but I don't know if I had ever thought about it myself. So the next few years were fantastic in terms of the learning, and how much I was able to do. But I don't think mentally, I was prepared for like the taking the next step. And there's a lot I could have done, just from a personal development perspective to to be more on align with what my duet partner and my coaches wanted for the next the next quarter, basically.

JOHN MOFFET:

But on the other hand, I happen to know you went to business school at some point in this time, and so were you training and going to business school at the same time? how did how did that all come about? Because at some point, you decided that you needed to recalibrate by going to business school, am I wrong?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yes. So I always pursued the two goals together Academy and the sport. And so in my plan, pre Olympics, I was going to go back to a bachelor degree after the Olympics, which I did. And then once you have a bachelor you can apply for Business School. So while we were training, going to European World Cup, I was also going to school for my bachelor in business. And then I was preparing for the exam. So you take an exam to get into business growing, it's pretty. It's pretty strict, and there's only a few people that get accepted. So I got my result. At the World Cup, literally, we were competing at the World Cup in Zurich, and I had to call the school cold and said that I had been accepted. Well, that was the end of the 2002 season. Okay, so this was, this was in Paris, I was in Paris, two years post Olympics. So I was ecstatic. My plan was to go to business school and train for the Olympics at the same time. And, and three weeks later, I got a call by my coach saying, you know, we have a meeting, I'm thinking, this is a preseason, meaning perfect, we're going to plan everything for the next season. And I go in, and it's just me, the coach and the director of performance for the Federation. And they basically say, you either prepare for the Olympics for this duet, because we're going for a medal, or you're going to business school, but you can't do both. Wow. And so I kind of like fell off my chair. I was like, what, that is not my plan. And so I think I was I reacted pretty quickly. And I said, Well, that's it. I'm living, I'm going to school, because and I'm not quite sure why I made that decision. I think I was pretty upset that I was actually asked to do something different than what I had planned. And so and I didn't know, and I just came from being accepted from to the school, and I was going already to the school, I had already started classes. So I ended up leaving and going to school. Wow. And obviously that was pretty impactful. And yeah, I was pretty bitter and frustrated. The support system itself. Yeah. And so I poured all my energy into school for the next three years, I actually found a company to do the school in a in a apprentice kind of system. So I was going to, to work during the day and then going out to school in evenings. And so that I could graduate the whole thing in three years,

JOHN MOFFET:

Which is, of course, how many athletes end up retiring is kind of forced into retirement, yeah, through various things. But most athletes don't leave their sport on their own terms.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah. I never took it this way, though. Which is interesting, because it is what what happened, but I thought, well, they gave me a choice. I chose school. I could have chosen differently at school. My duet partner was not aware of that decision, that choice that they were they gave me an her and I realized we had a different reading of the situation maybe three years ago, she and she thought I left because I did not want to swim anymore. So it's really interesting to what happens and how we leave sport. And a lot of it is unsaid right or communicated differently based on where you're at. But listen, if this ended up being a great a great decision for me, I really enjoyed school, I poured all my energy into it. I had a great job. I worked for a hotel company, you know, for 10 years. They were super supportive. I learned a ton from them. And that's what took me to Australia, Australia. for work. Yeah, absolutely.

JOHN MOFFET:

Wow. Okay. Okay, so. So you, you went to Australia for work? At some point, you got the synchronized swimming bug back, didn't you? And how did that happen?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So I'm going to go back a little bit from this, because there's a little story before that you Okay, here. So part of graduating from the business school, you needed to do a semester abroad. So I ended up doing a semester in Thailand. And so going to school there and working for my company, and doing a lot of travel. This was the year of the tsunami that happened in Thailand, I actually left Thailand, the day of the tsunami to go on vacation to New Zealand. I had a lot of, you know, school friends who got affected by the tsunami. But our company lost two hotels through the event of the tsunami. And so when I came back to Paris, after that semester, overseas, I was working full time in the Communication Department of the company. And we were handling the aftermath of the tsunami and what it had done to those, those hotel and those families who had disappeared. And it was really hard working in that environment when I had myself lived there and sort of knew some people that had been impacted. So I did ask my manager at the time, I said, You know, I don't I need a change of environment. And so if there's a position that becomes available overseas, I will take it. And so I had specifically asked if they had something in Australia and Brazil, and I ended up going to Australia. I think a week after I made that request, they had something open up and yeah.

JOHN MOFFET:

Okay, so back to, you're in Australia working. And this is doesn't happen very often you're working, but somewhere along the line, you decided you wanted to go back to your sport, what what was, what were those mechanisms?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yes, that's another great story. So actually wanted to coach, I wanted to kind of build a social network, because I was by myself on the other side of the word and didn't know anybody. So I called the Federation and asked if there was a club in Sydney where I could coach single. And I said no. And I think they they used to have a coach, they used to have a club that closed anyway, they said, We have our national championship in three weeks, you're welcome to come and participate. And

JOHN MOFFET:

Not coach but compete, compete. Okay. And you haven't been in the water in ow

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Three years?

JOHN MOFFET:

Okay.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Two, three years. Yeah. And I thought, Oh, why not? You know, I have nothing to lose, at least I'll meet people. And this was in Brisbane, I thought there's gonna be a great road trip. So I ended up driving to Brisbane from Sydney, taking a few stops along the way. I use an old routine I competed in the solo event ended up winning the competition. And Australia has a much lower level in synchronized swimming than other countries. So obviously, that was to my advantage. And I was it I met tons of people great, you know, great experience, drove back to work, went to work on the next Monday, and then I got a phone call from the coach who said, Would you consider swimming for us? And I literally laughed. It was like, haven't swim in three years. I'm not from here. I have a job. I can't do this. And I know for me, that was the end of it. But then I got a call from the CEO of my company. At the time, you know, we worked in this big, giant, open space. Yeah, everybody heard my conversation. And so he calls me into his office and I thought, What did I do? You know what happened? And he goes, Okay, so I heard we you were offered something exceptional, and we want to support you and I thought, What is this?

JOHN MOFFET:

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INTRO:

You're back and listeni g to SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE wit John Mo

MYRIAM GLEZ:

And he just made me an offer that I couldn't refuse. I said, Listen, you know, we'll help you with your immigration. We'll keep you employed you can we'll give you flexible hours, you can come later in work, you can leave early, will sponsor you can travel for the competition. All we ask that you do is share your experiences with the staff internally, and that you participate in some of the events that we have maybe do a few shows in some of the hotels. And you can imagine like in synchronized swimming, there's not a lot of sponsorship. Right? And this was like, You can't refuse something like that was amazing. Yeah, what a blessing. I mean, it was incredible. And I was like, Okay, great. And that was it. I was back in.

JOHN MOFFET:

Was it so suddenly you aspired for 2028 or 2008? You were you found yourself back training? Yep. For your second Olympic Games, with France. But for Australia.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

There was it was definitely interesting. Obviously, coming back after three years off was really hard. Yeah, I hadn't been very, I hadn't been training a lot, I was not a lot or not as not very in shape. So that was that was difficult. Most of the team was split between Brisbane and Melbourne. So I had to travel a fair bit. And the rest of the time I was training by myself. That's rough. But it was it was an amazing experience all of it. We swimming with people from another country. Doing your sport in a different language was also good. I mean, I had to, like, learn different vocabulary for the sport and to count in English really fast. Um, we had two coaches who were from overseas, one was Russian and one was Ukrainian. And I was part of why I was interested in coming back as well, because those two countries, you know, they were leading the world in the sport, and I wanted to know what they were doing differently. So I really enjoyed working with them. It was really hard, harder than anything I had done. But what an experience to be trading with them. And then obviously, going to the Olympics. With another country, everything is different. Everything is new.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, right. And but you said something really interesting is that you found a community you found you were kind of feeling alone. And that's another thing that sports provides is it provides people of like mind, people, a support network of people who were wishing you well who are supporting you who want you to be happy and thrive. I mean, that's one of the magical things about sports.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Absolutely. And I ended up starting the club in Sydney, which is still alive today. thriving. I did it with a friend of mine who is one of my best friend and I'm still in touch with two of the athletes that started with me actually competed in Tokyo. One of them competed in Rio. Also, when you talk about community like these are people that will be in touch my whole life. Yeah, those whose I started the club ways, but also some of the athletes that parents right. The coach that used to coach me. Yeah, that that just stays with you forever.

JOHN MOFFET:

It does. It doesn't that level of trust of being on a team that inherent of a functional team because there's teams that aren't always functional, but have a functional team. There's an immense amount of trust between

MYRIAM GLEZ:

the athletes. And it was really interesting. You know, I went to Rio, with the US team. And these athletes from Australia who started with me at seven years old back in 2007 was in Rio and her parents were there and it was incredible to like sit down in the stands with them and the mom saying you told me 10 years ago that we would be You and I do not believe you at the time. But we had faith and it worked out. That was cool.

JOHN MOFFET:

So So listeners are thinking, Okay, wait, we use Australia, USA, okay, there is. There are steps here too. And this is this is one of the the fun things about your journey, your life's journey is that you started this program in Australia. And how did that lead you into coaching for the United Kingdom is what I know.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So that was totally another random opportunity. We moved. So I met my husband in Australia is American. And we had our kid in Australia and his company during the 2008 financial crisis got bought by another company. And so they ended up closing the office and moving him to London. So we moved for his job. I left my hotel business. And we moved to London. I had, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I ended up visiting the the UK Training Centre for synchronized swimming, just to see what they were doing. It was sort of a I had a friend who knew the coach and she put me in touch. And when I got there, the coach was like, Well, can you going coach this person there? And I thought, sure, I'll help foot today. And then at the end of the day, she said, so how many hours can you do? Or Okay, and I thought Hang on a second, like, this was not a job interview. But I had nothing else planned at that moment. And I thought why not you know, the games are in two years. That kind of is interesting. She's Canadian coaching the UK team and the those games were in London, those game were in London, she was also the coach of the Canadian team, when I was swimming for the French team, and Canada won the bronze medal when we were forced. So again, I was like, Okay, I want to learn from her and see what she's doing. So that's how it started and how I got involved with the English team. And I just had my kids so I was only coaching a few days a week. And then I ended up starting coaching the you the younger teams, the youth level, doing a little bit of administration on the side, she quickly realized that my background was more the business and the sport. And so I ended up doing like some of the business side for her. So it was a fantastic experience that wasn't planned.

JOHN MOFFET:

No, no. And I think that that's a great lesson for all of us to kind of take in is that in sports, obviously. But in life, especially. You get opportunities. And oftentimes we don't take those opportunities. But we don't know where they're going to lead Unless Unless we take them. It's a it's a powerful thing. And we all get opportunities.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah. And this is like the exact story of my life, like everything was meeting people, you don't really know what's going to come out of it. But eventually they're this great opportunity and, and you're available and ready to take it. So it was always like that. I love

JOHN MOFFET:

that. Okay, so you. You were you're part of the national team for United Kingdom. Right? Okay, so you were going to your third Olympic Games, first two as an athlete. And this one as a coach and and administrator. Yeah. So your third Olympic Games, how is this? How is this different from being an athlete?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So I was on the the support staff. It was different. First of all, I think there was many aspects that were different because we were in London, so there was no travel somewhere else, right? Okay, so we train in the home pool for a long time. I was helping but also still coaching some of the use teams, so it's kind of splitting my time and that was surreal. Because I would go one day train the junior kind of like a normal training day and then the next day I would go to the Olympic pool and see the girls training or competing. So there was like this two sided experience from one day to the next. And obviously, just seeing them compete at the Olympics and doing really well no, that was fantastic. But yeah, I was like sort of in in the in between I had just come out of being an athlete. So I think for me, everything was just learning seeing what what happened and seeing how it worked from the side. I wasn't accredited to be on the pool. So I was sort of watching from afar, which was interesting as well, I think you learn a lot from different aspects.

JOHN MOFFET:

You have you said the word learn a lot. So is is part of your success and your journey, you're incredibly interesting journey. Is it due to your mindset of being a lifetime learner? You think?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I never thought about it, but I think you're right. Like everything for me comes to like, learning something new from that experience. Yeah, new experience, whether it's going to another country working with someone different. Going to a different competition or in a different business field. There's always something you can take from that experience.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah. Well, you know, I'm, you're kind of getting to be a professional at transitioning. Yes, in your life here. So you, you, let's see. So you were a French Olympian, Australian Olympian, United Kingdom coach. And now, somehow Team USA came knocking at your door.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So one of these other transition, right? We, yes. So I actually was going to continue working with the UK team. We were going to stay in England. But then my husband got a job offer to come back to the US. And that was with a company in New York. And, again, this all happened really quickly. We were actually going to buy a house. And I was sending an email with an offer on that house that night. And my husband was like, in London, you're buying in London? And he's like, No, no, no, no, don't send the email. And I was wondering, he had been on the phone for an hour, I was wondering what was going on? And he comes in and he goes, how would you feel about living in New York? And I thought, hang on, we're buying a house in England. He goes, Well, I think we're not buying a house. I said, Sure. I'll go to New York. That sounds exciting. And it was like, great, because I just accepted the offer. And I stopped on Monday. And I think this was like Thursday. And I was like, Okay, that sounds good. I cannot go on Monday. But I'll meet you there. And that's how it happens.

JOHN MOFFET:

Wow. And opportunity comes in all different packages. And it also you know, you never know what life's going to which curveball to use a baseball reference. Yeah, it's going to throw your way.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

And so I think we ended up, me and my daughter and they're not moving maybe two months later, I need to wait for my green card. We moved to New York a couple of days before Sandy. Hurricane said Oh, right. And I was an interesting experience. And then I applied for the high performance director position at USC synchronized swimming A few months later, and started for working for. For them, I had no background. I mean, in hindsight, I had no background on the organization or those and, you know, watching the athletes from the US compete in the Olympics. But I just I was really passionate about the high performance side and structuring synchronized swimming more from a business perspective. So my thought where I want to bring more of those business skill into the sport word.

JOHN MOFFET:

Right, right. And so the the performance, what was your What was your position again, high performer, director, high performance director, so so that is really facilitating the athletes to be able to perform at the highest level, it's not coaching, correct.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

It's not coaching. It's really the organization of the high performance level, the national team, their travel, their training, but also the talent identification the past to the high performance, how we train coaches. When I was in England, that was really well defined each organization at a high performance director, and they had like really clear criteria on what you were doing from all of these different aspects. And that's what I had been working on from the business side. So I kind of used a lot of the, the structure that I had learned from UK sport and transfer that into the US. There was there was a lot to do. We didn't have a train center. So we set up a training center in the Bay Area. There wasn't really a talent identification program formalized. We created different levels for the athletes to go through before getting to like a national championship or a national team. So we, you know, lots of different direction to work on.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, clearly, whatever you were doing was successful, because you were, at some point, elevated to the Chief Executive Office officer, the CEO of USA, synchronized swimming. And how did that opportunity come about? And what what do you Why do you think you are ultimately selected to, to be in that role?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So this happened probably two, three years afterwards. I think it you know, to be honest, I think it happened fairly by default. We had a, you know, we had two CEOs that left beforehand, so ended up replacing and combining with the high performance director position. So that was really, really busy. And in hindsight, I don't think is the best situation to be in for a while because there is so much to do. But I have been driving the change from for the last three years from the performance side. And so I think that's what the board had recognized that the point at that time, and why I got into that role. We had a very detail, high performance plan that we were working on and we just wanted to continue to implement that.

JOHN MOFFET:

From what I understand the USA synchro nice swimming was going through some difficult times about the same time that you assume the CEO position, what was what was happening within USA synchro.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

So it started I think they went through a rough time many years before that. And I you know, a lot of it is linked to the fact that the they were decreasing the result the international result were decreasing. And so you know, that leads always an organization to like, just struggle and ask a lot of question it kind of, you know, there was a rotation of staff at the top you know, the athletes couldn't catch a break. There was a there was a lot of issues and to be honest, a lot of issues that you see in other sport in the us right now. I think also a lot of it we're that's my experience in opinion, like compared to other countries, there was a lot of things that had not been structured or formalized because they it's not government founded and it's not structured by an overreaching organization that would say, Okay, this is how you're going to do talent development This is how you're going to train your coaches, right, how you're going to select your teams, this is how you're going to organize the training of your national teams. So all of these things have not been in place plus the lack of funding, which means very few resources right? Very limited staff. It's really hard to run a successful organization when you you don't have any of these in in us in Korea, you know, because of the decrease resort had lost most of its funding from the US Olympic Committee. And so you know, you're playing catch 22 after that, yeah, right. You're trying to go back to the top but you don't have the money for it and I think they still struggle with that. Today, you know, they still don't have the means to compete against the best countries in the world right? So how do you catch up and beat those countries when you don't have the revenue for it?

JOHN MOFFET:

And and as a side note, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe USA Synchro sent a team to Tokyo.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

They did not send the team. They were very, ver close

JOHN MOFFET:

I watched the routine of the...

MYRIAM GLEZ:

The robot routine is amazing.

JOHN MOFFET:

Amazing routine.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Absolutely.

JOHN MOFFET:

I watched it on YouTube. I've watched it a few times. And

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, and I think it's the routine has been watched the most I think they have like 50 million views or something. Right now.

JOHN MOFFET:

It's a lot. Yeah,

MYRIAM GLEZ:

It's amazing. Like the choreography is super entertaining. is really interesting from the beginning. To the end, so they did really well at the Olympic qualifier, they were behind for like some ridiculous, like low score. So they ended up being the last team that did not qualify. And on top of this, the team that qualified Greece actually did not compete in Tokyo because several of their athletes got COVID. So they ended up having you know, one less team in the US could have gone so I think that that's been pretty rough for the athletes. Yeah.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yep. COVID has been rough all the way around, for sure. Well, like I said, I'm excited that they're going to be coming here to Los Angeles. You were, I believe, six or so years with Team USA, were you able to go to 2016?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I did, I did go to Rio was without duet. So I was the team leader for the group. So we had two athletes, the coach and myself,

JOHN MOFFET:

that's jaw dropping for different Olympics in as an athlete, for France as an athlete for Australia, as a administrator for the UK, and as the CEO for USA. Amazing accomplishment.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Thank you. Yes. I mean, you know, none of it was planned, it just turned out pretty, pretty lucky. But it It's incredible. To see the Olympics from different angles. Yeah, I'm talking obviously, from different countries, there's always something a little bit different. And the culture, you know, that plays into it, or the narrative that each country tells themself about the games or how they're organized. It's fascinating to see, like the different approach, I think the athletes has the same view, you know, they want to do their best, they love the, the social aspect of the game and connecting with other athletes, right? And they really carry the values, I really do believe that all of the athletes are fond of the Olympics because of the values. So I think the the athlete side is, is pretty similar. Yeah. But from the organization perspective, you know, there are some differences.

JOHN MOFFET:

I'd also like to point out, I agree with you about the athletes and values. Because if they didn't embrace those values, they wouldn't make it to that level in the first place. But I think there's also an understanding by people who, who watch the Olympic and Paralympic Games of what's going on, and what those values are, and how important they are to the collective world that we all you know, the athletes just want to compete, and the athletes just want to compete fairly.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah. And even more than that, I feel like, you really see some of those events in the Olympics, where you see the runner who falls and someone will help them finish. And that person will give them in the end and the person and be like, Yeah, but I want, I want to win fairly. If I'm gonna win, I wanna win because I was the best one and not because someone fell. Yeah. And I really think you see this in the Olympics. And as a real reflection of how the athletes perceived that event, I think,

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, I overuse the term, but it truly is the it's magic thing about about sports and athletes is those kinds of things. So you became a professional at pivoting, reinvention of yourself, embracing change learning. And once again, you have found yourself in a new venture completely different from what you have been doing before. Tell me a bit about Athletes Soul. And what it is, and what is driving you to create this organization.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, so Athletes Soul, is a nonprofit organization, which support athletes as they retire away from sport. And generally, we want to help raise awareness around the challenges of athletic retirement and how difficult of a transition it is for athletes, regardless of their sport or background, right. So we support all athletes, from any sport from any level, generally, it would be high school and up and we provide different services to help them you know, transition and kind of be successful in in their next chapter, whatever that is. Yeah. So that's, that's what athletes always I think the premise behind it. Part of it is, from my personal experience of athletic retirement, from the different transition I had in my life, but also seeing a lot of the athletes that I have coached, who some of them, you know, on paper have had everything perfect from achieving their goal to having great academics having a job and still, you know, struggling with the transition. And, you know, I connected with a lot of former athletes in that space who were already providing services to athlete in transition. And that was, you know, two, three years ago. And eventually, we wanted to do something more, right. They are a lot more support and services and organization that provide some sort of program of support to retiring athlete now. But several years ago, that wasn't the case. And

JOHN MOFFET:

Certainly not.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yes.

JOHN MOFFET:

When I retired, you're just, you're just set adrift, and you had to figure it out yourself.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah. And I think a lot of athletes also don't necessarily fit into the programs that are in place, simply because they didn't make, they didn't make it to the NFL, or they didn't make it to the games. Or they're just a high school student who doesn't make it or, or has, for example, we had an athlete who had a scholarship to play at a division one, and then got hurt, lost a scholarship, and her identity completely fell apart. And this is someone who has invested the same number of ours who's worked really hard, who actually made it, but then was injured and couldn't continue. So a lot of the athletes who are, you know, heavily impacted by the transition from sport are those who are not necessarily eligible for some of the programs.

JOHN MOFFET:

You mean, the programs, for example, that the usopc provides for, for their team USA athletes,

MYRIAM GLEZ:

or the you know, what the NFLPA will support? You know, and, and often those are the athletes who needed the most.

JOHN MOFFET:

What is it about this particular... because you've retired and reemerged several times in your lifetime, what is it about this? Retired athletes that really, really strikes close to your heart?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I think what I would like to instill with athletes or is a more positive outlook on that transition. And I would like for those exceptional individual these athletes to really continue to impact positively. Society even after they retire. And I, I feel that a lot of athletes kind of get lost for too long, sometimes, you know, up to 10 years of like, drifting in between jobs and not figuring out, you know, what's their next step? Yeah. And, and maybe they need just that little bit of help to give them some direction, so that they can thrive as much in the next life as they did when they were at lean. And to be honest, my personal experience is a good example of I, you know, left the sport early, I could have gone on and do two or three more Olympics with France and had a completely different sporting career. But everything that happened after my retirement was exceptional. And it was as exceptional as what I did in my sport. And so I would like for people to have hope that what they can do per sport will be as exceptional as what they did in their sporting career.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, I've it's funny, because I've had, this has happened to me multiple times where people and it's oftentimes in just, you know, the they say that, but they say there's truth and just where I will have somebody say, oh, it must be really hard for you to have achieved your greatest, you know, Pinnacle in Life Achievement, when you were basically just barely out of being a teenager. And I got to say this, like, yeah, that there is an element to that, that's very difficult to, to swallow. But on the other hand, it's not true.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I totally agree with that. I mean, it's also you know, kind of reducing a lot of things happen in life to that that just to your sport. And after having a lot of conversation with with athletes who have retired who had gold medal at the Olympics. A lot of what I hear from them is when you do the work on yourself, and you try to do dive deeper than just the athletic side. You start learning a lot more and You start discovering that all this aspect of yourself and your life that you didn't know existed and it's really interesting to see the joy in those athletes when they start discovering that and realizing okay Hang on, it's not just that I can do I can be so much more right. And that is in itself as successful as what they've done before.

JOHN MOFFET:

And well in sports provides an incredible preparation, amazing preparation for life itself because of the values that we spoke of earlier you know, the hard work the dedication you know, all these things to the point of you know, you having to strategize your life of what you want to do next, athletes have to do all that in order to be successful.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Yeah, and they have all these skills I think we, we talk a lot about teamwork and communication, hardwork resilience, I think those are basics but for a company to realize also the the more refined skills of goal setting, having a plan switching the plan being able to react at the last minute and make a quick pivot creativity coming up with different solutions being a self starter figuring out things on your own, like there were so many different aspects outside of the common one that we think of that are valuable from having an athlete in your team.

JOHN MOFFET:

And there are there are have been some studies some consulting firms have actually been studying this that you know, we were talking earlier that 80 something percent of C-level women executives were athletes. What do you know about some of these studies that some of these big companies have been doing on this?

MYRIAM GLEZ:

I think Ernst and Young and Deloitte have studying transferable skills from athlete I think Adecco as well. If you look at any of the the consulting company, they all have looked into what it mean to transfer your skill from athletics into the business word. And these are definitely things that we are now looking for, because you can teach the technical skills, you can teach a certain industry or business, you can learn about legal, you can learn about pharmaceutical or you can learn about anything, but those soft skills having them in a young person who has actually had the opportunity to have practical experience with those skills, I think is really unbelievable. You know, you've put that in practice day in and day out on the field or in the poor. You've got years behind you of having done that failed at it became better improving it refining it. And yeah, it's it's definitely something that we should you know, that you would want to have in any candidate for for a job.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, Myriam you, you said just a little bit earlier that you want your athletes that go through the Athletes Soul program, too. Share the positivity of their athletic experience and spread that with the world. And I mean, you have been doing that your entire life. And it's been a pleasure hearing all of your different mini journeys within your grand life, life's journey. So thank you so much for sharing those stories with me.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Thanks for asking me and in letting me be able to share the detail of it because there's definitely different journey was no journey.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, that's, that's what I love about athletes is that there are so many lessons, and so many stories that can make our lives better and we can learn from.

MYRIAM GLEZ:

Absolutely, thank you.

JOHN MOFFET:

Cheers. Myriam asked me to leave you with this quote. And she says, "Every day is an opportunity to better yourself. Don't be afraid of change. It's an opportunity for growth." Then she added, "this is what I try to live by." If you would like to find out more about Myriam's latest venture, Athletes Soul her foundation website is athletessoul.org. I'm John Moffet and I hope you enjoyed this episode of SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE. And if you did, please take a moment to give us your five star review and tell a friend. And don't forget to go out and find your opportunities this week.

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Myriam Glez Profile Photo

Myriam Glez

French–Australian Olympic Synchronised Swimmer