Swimming Champion Tom Luchsinger Comes Out as Gay

National swimming champion—and Olympic hopeful—Tom Luchsinger came out of the closet in a touching piece he wrote for Outsports. Titled “King of the Double Life,” the piece explores the time he spent in the closet, and the sense of overwhelming freedom he got from escaping. Here’s some of what he wrote:

200 Fly Championship FinalI always wondered, “Why would anyone want to take a picture of me? Why would anyone want to film me? I’m nothing but an unaccomplished, closeted queer.”

With this new semi-public image, I was expected to show people the ins and outs of my life: where I was going, whom I was with, and what we were doing. Where previously I flew under the radar, I was suddenly expected to do interviews. How was I supposed to be comfortable in front of a camera when I couldn’t stomach looking at myself in the mirror? The attention that some athletes revel in was causing me turmoil.

Whenever I posted anything on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, I would read it over 10, 15, 20 times to make sure no one could infer anything about my sexuality. Whenever I was interviewed I would watch the online clips over and over again to make sure I seemed masculine. I seemed fully confident in front of the media, coaches, parents and teammates but completely inadequate, worthless and insecure behind closed doors.

I was the King of the Double Life.

An entire year went on with me living this double life. In June 2014-almost one year to the day after winning my national title-I made a deal with myself. If I didn’t repeat my championship title, the way I was living my life needed to change. For my own personal health, I needed to come out. I needed to accept myself and stop hating myself.