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Synchronized swimmer Tracy Little makes the leap from Olympics to pole dancing

More from Sean Fitz-Gerald | @SeanFitz_Gerald

Little, a two-time Olympian, retired from the sport after London and moved almost immediately into a new career: Pole dancing.
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Synchronized swimmer Tracy Little transitions from Olympics to pole dancing

In September, six members of the Canadian synchronized swimming team that finished fourth at the London Olympics announced their retirement. One of them, Tracy Little, a two-time Olympian, moved almost immediately into a new career: Pole dancing.

The 26-year-old from Pointe-Claire, Que., ended her two decades in the pool to become marketing and communications manager for Milan Pole Dance, based in Montreal. The company explains itself on its website: “Just some years ago, sexy pole dancing was associated with strippers. Now, it is a combination of dance and acrobatics for anybody looking for excitement as well as health benefits.”

Little, a member of the synchro team that claimed gold at the Pan American Games in Mexico last year, discussed her move, her motives and her new career in an interview with the National Post:

Photo by Celia Lavinskas

How often do you have to explain the concept of pole dancing to strangers?
“Very often, especially here in Montreal. Our studios in Europe — there’s two of them now in Italy — and they’re huge, with over 1,000 clients. But in Montreal, it’s not as well known yet. There’s maybe 30 studios all over Canada. And some people are hearing about it because you’re seeing all the trends; celebrities are doing it. It’s starting to grow, as a fitness image now … there’s other types of pole work than just sexy dance, let’s say.”

As a fitness exercise, does pole dance have an image problem?
“No, I don’t believe so. Everybody that I’ve spoken to, they come in and try it themselves. And once they come in, they see it has nothing to do with the image that it has. So there is the striptease background, that it was done in the strip clubs and stuff. But if you go in and you try and ask one of those girls to perform any one of the tricks that we do at the studio here, it’s impossible for them. It takes a lot of athletic talent to be able to do what they’re doing here, and it’s nothing at all compared to what they do in the strip clubs.”

You didn’t waste a lot of time moving from life as a full-time athlete to a new life in the business world: How has the transition been?
“It’s actually very difficult. I’m kind of used to coming into the pool and being told to be here, here, here and here. Now, I’m making my own ideas and brainstorming on my own as opposed to, let’s say, being in a group. But I’m really enjoying it. I was not sure of my retirement, if I was ready, and if I was going to regret it and, within a few months, be like, ‘Oh, I wish I was back in the pool.’ But for sure, now I know I really enjoy the ‘working’ world.”

Why did you decide to retire?
“I can say it was because I did 22 years, and I did two Olympics. But I think really, in the end, I was tired of training. I was tired of the long hours in the water, and being in the water, in general.”

Have you been swimming since?
“No. I have not gone swimming. I’ve been working out. And I actually did a fundraiser, for a swim-a-thon ‘splash-and-dash.’ And they were like, ‘would you like to run or swim?’ And I was like, ‘I’m going to run.’ I ran with the kids, instead of swimming.”

Can Canada ever crack through to the top of the podium in synchronized swimming at the Olympics?
“I think we might have to take a different direction, which I think they might be going toward. It’s going to take a while for them to make new programs. But I think, for sure, they maybe need to go in a more classical way than what we’re used to doing for Canada, because it doesn’t seem to be working. Our team [in London] was the best Canada’s ever had, and with our routine at the Olympics, it obviously wasn’t enough.”

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