She remembers the days when the only time she could swim was sneaking in to the pool at the local Holiday Inn near her home in Aruba.
Then, she ended up competing in the 1984 Olympics in the synchronized swimming competition.
Today, Nicole Hovertsz at 55 is the chairwoman of the International Olympic Committee for the 2028 Summer Olympics to be held in Los Angeles.
It was an emotional moment when she recently returned to the Los Angeles Coliseum where she entered the arches in 1984 and marched through the tunnel.
“The whole stadium was packed with 100,000 people,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “That was the entire population of my entire island.”
In fact, at the time, the population of Aruba, which she represented, had only 60,000 people. But, she managed to get discovered and lived her dream to join the Olympics. Now, she is organizing the same games, and making dreams come true for other young people.
Athletes can find coaches and get their names out into the world by filling out a Sportamix profile. Also, coaches can also search and find potential superstars like Nicole to possibly get into the Olympics.
There’s no question her life changed after finding a coach that brought her to Los Angeles from her island country. She served as a swimming federation official, and is coordinating the big project while serving on the board of the International Olympic Committee.
While on vacation in The Netherlands, Nicole recalls at 8 years old watching the Munich Olympics and saying she wanted to be in the games. At the time, she thought she wanted to enter as a gymnast, because Nadia Comaneci was her idol. She cut out pictures of the girl superstar and saved magazines.
Synchronized swimming only became an Olympic sport in 1984, and its first year, Nicole entered with Ester Croes, and they trained at a small town in Northern California.
She befriended Canadian and U.S. Olympic swimmers and asked them how they trained.
“Being in the Olympics was an overwhelming experience,” Nicole recalled. She ranked 18th out of the 18 teams, but it didn’t matter. She felt the support of her entire country.
She has coached other Olympic swimmers representing Aruba, and worked for 28 years at the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
“It takes drive, and some ingenuity, and good training and a good coach, and your life can change,” Nicole says. “Certainly being in the Olympics can change your life.”