From a small village in Latvia to the heights of Britain’s swimming elite, Leo Sarigins‘ journey is a testament to perseverance, resilience, and the power of a dream. Despite facing numerous obstacles, including language barriers, harsh training conditions, and significant setbacks, Leo’s story is one of triumph over adversity.

In our exclusive video below, Leo shares how failing to reach his Olympic dream led him to a fulfilling life of training and coaching elite athletes in luxury pools around the world.

This interview was filmed at the 2024 MySwimPro Swim Retreat in Crete, Greece. We were proud and thankful to have Leo join us on the pool deck as swim coach. Watch our video and let us know what you think in the comments!

Humble Beginnings

Born and raised in a tiny Latvian village with a population of about 5,000 people, Leo’s early life was far from glamorous.

“In Latvia, there was no such thing as fun back then,” Leo recalls. “I hated swimming, but I somehow ended up doing it for the rest of my life.” Leo’s grandmother insisted he follow in his older brother’s footsteps, pushing him into the pool at a young age.

Moving to the UK

At the age of 11, Leo moved to the UK, unable to speak English. He joined a local swimming club and started to find his footing in the sport. “Up to the age of about 14 or 15, I didn’t take it very seriously,” Leo admits. However, his natural talent began to shine through, and he quickly climbed the ranks, winning a silver medal at the British Championships by the age of 16.

The Struggle for Excellence

Without a family car, Leo cycled 7.5 miles to practice, enduring freezing January mornings in the UK. “It was very cold, very wet, and getting up at 4:30 in the morning was the most miserable thing. But all I wanted was to get better at swimming,” Leo explains. His dedication saw him training up to eight times a week, balancing work and coaching to fund his aspirations.

A Steep Turn

Just as Leo’s swimming career was peaking, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, closing pools for nearly two years. “By the time they opened back up, I’d already started coaching a little bit more,” says Leo. Without the intense pressure he once placed on himself, Leo competed at the English Winter Nationals and achieved a personal best, leading to an unexpected offer to coach in Dubai.

A New Chapter in Dubai

Moving to Dubai was a whirlwind decision that transformed Leo’s life. “I’ve always seen Dubai as a place for rich people, all the blingy places,” Leo says. Within a week, he was coaching at Hamilton Aquatics, living a life he had only dreamed of. “It was such an amazing opportunity. I had this dream of having something to my name, and coaching was becoming that dream.”

Family and Legacy

Leo’s success allowed him to provide for his family in ways he had always hoped. “I always wanted to provide for my family, even at a very young age,” he says. Ensuring his loved ones could share in his success became a driving force in his life. “You can have all these amazing things, but if you can’t share them with the people that matter, it’s not the same.”

From Swimmer to Coach

Although Leo’s primary role is now coaching, his passion for swimming remains undiminished. He continues to train and compete, winning events like the 50 and 100 backstroke in Abu Dhabi. His business, LSE Performance, focuses on elite swimming coaching, inspired by his own experiences and desire to give back to the sport.

Inspiring the Next Generation

Leo’s unique blend of personal experience and professional expertise makes him an exceptional mentor. “The biggest thing for me as a coach, especially with the 12 to 18 age group, is mindset,” he says. Transforming reluctant swimmers into confident athletes is one of his most rewarding achievements.

2024 MySwimPro Swim Retreat in Crete, Greece

One of the highlights of Leo’s coaching career is his involvement with the MySwimPro Swim Retreats. “The whole Greece camp, I’m learning every single day,” says Leo. “Everything you guys do and film, what you speak about in the training sessions, is a huge help for my coaching career. Seeing how people of all ages and abilities cheer each other on is amazing. It inspires me to keep swimming and coaching.”

The MySwimPro Swim Retreats offer a unique opportunity to train with elite coaches like Leo in some of the most beautiful locations around the world. Whether you’re looking to improve your technique, meet like-minded swimmers, or simply enjoy a luxurious getaway, these retreats provide an unparalleled swimming experience.

Join us at our next all-inclusive MySwimPro Swim Retreat! Click here to learn more >

Leo’s journey from a small Latvian village to coaching in Dubai and beyond illustrates the transformative power of swimming. “The only reason I’m in this position now is because of swimming,” he says. Swimming opened unimaginable doors for Leo, allowing him to travel the world and share his passion and expertise with others.

Leo Sarigins’ story is a powerful reminder that while the path to achieving our dreams may not always be straightforward, the journey itself can lead to incredible, unexpected destinations. Whether you’re a beginner or an elite athlete, the lessons learned in the pool can translate into life-changing experiences, shaping your future in unimaginable ways.

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