Before Danish swimmer Sarah Bro (23) moved to LA, her big dream had just come true. However, the problem was, she was left feeling like she didn’t really have a direction in life.
“My dream was always to participate in the Olympics, so when it was over, I suddenly felt completely lost. Having worked so hard and being so focused on it for many years, it was almost as if I had planned and devoted my life to the Olympics, but not so much after it was over.” In addition, Sarah had recently finished high school where she had lived a life guided completely by routines, with strong direction from both coaches and teachers. “Everything I had in my life before was suddenly gone. So, I thought, What now? Is this what I want?” The young swimming talent decided to take a step back. For four months, she let go of all the routines and lived life the way she wanted to. During those months outside of the swimming pool, Sarah thought more and more about the future and a scary feeling began to creep up on her - that something might have to change. “No one tells you how tough it can be after high school when you are suddenly on your own with all the possibilities in the world and no one to make choices for you, but yourself.” So when a friend of Sarah invited her to come to LA, the timing couldn’t have been better. Sarah threw herself at the chance, and it would change everything. “I stayed there for three weeks and loved it! We trained differently, I had fun with the team there and I felt like, ‘Yeah, okay! This is why I love to swim!’ So, I decided to move there, even though my parents thought I was crazy.”
Many go to LA and lose themselves. The opposite happened to Sarah. “Before I came to LA, I was at my very darkest. I was so ‘stuck’ in my old environment and it was difficult to develop. In LA, there is room for everything and everyone - I really felt like I could be myself one hundred percent.” Although life in LA offers a high tempo and plenty of socializing, Sara can still feel lonely at times. “I always have ‘the Sunday Blues,’ says Sarah with her new LA accent. “At home I can go away to family and friends and just hang out. Here, everybody has so much going on and nobody has regular 9 to 4 jobs, so you can quickly get lonely. What I do to get over it is to watch a movie or two, buy ice cream or do something nice for myself, like a manicure. On really bad days, I sleep it all away. But the best trick to shake off those bad feelings is to go for a walk. Simply "walk it off!”
However, it's exactly this non-traditional lifestyle in LA that Sarah loves most. “In Scandinavia, we’re more afraid to stand out. ‘Less is more’, while here it is definitely ‘more is more’, – also when it comes to clothing. No one looks twice if you are different, and it feels liberating.” Although the 23-year-old has always identified her behavior and interests in the politically incorrect term of a "tomboy”, she’s always loved makeup and clothing. “I love sports and outdoor activities, but I also love to feel good! My biggest insecurity is my skin, and I often find myself putting on makeup before swim practice. It's all about feeling good. Maybe you look down on it, but, for me, doing it is better than walking around spending lots of energy thinking about how I look.” Sarah’s biggest sports idol is American sprinter Lola Jones. “When people criticized her for wearing makeup on the track, she replied, ‘Well, this is my job. If you can use makeup on the job, why can't I? What gives you the right to decide my appearance?’ I love how she's so bad-ass and says exactly what she means – it inspires me! Like many others, Sarah also finds inspiration and motivation in pop culture. “I love the raw material of artists like Rihanna and Beyoncé. They are strong characters that don’t really give a fuck. Sometimes I might emphasize this myself, but inside I'm still a little insecure, so women like these give me some extra "drive" and inspire me to care a little less.”
At the same time, Sarah looks up to others mostly for what they say and do, and not how they look. “We girls can be a bit like ‘oh, I wish I had her hair’ or ‘she has the dream body’, but I stumbled across a comment online a while ago that was like: ‘OK, but if you want to be her, you can’t just pick her hair and body. You also have to take her divorce and financial problems as well.’ I think this is so well said!” Although Sarah loves the freedom of LA, there is definitely one area where she feels that Scandinavia is far ahead of the US: Equality. “When I think of women, I think of independence. There is so much power in being a woman. This is truly our century! However, here in the US ,they are a little behind us in Scandinavia. There is still a very strong culture for ‘the man to take care of the woman’. An example of when this comes up is when it’s time to pay for something. Men are very insistent that they pay for the woman, which to me can feel uncomfortable.” "If you were to give one piece of advice to women and girls out there based on everything you've learned, what would it be?" “That life is a process and you are exactly where you want to be. And, don't worry, your skin will get better, haha!”