Well-Being that Flows Into Exceptional Performance

At First Water, we help athletes, coaches and teams achieve excellence without sacrificing their mental and emotional well-being. Through combining Olympic high-performance experience and evidence-based scientific approaches, we train you to be fully present on and off the field of play.

Your best performance? It’s one of the First Water

What exactly is a performance of the first water? It’s one that’s marked by the greatest clarity, resilience, and ability to flow under pressure. This reference stems from the former system of grading diamonds by their water. A diamond of the first water is of exceptional quality because it has the greatest level of brilliance.

Derek and First Water are tapping into the essence of having a fierce composure in the face of life’s challenges. Having known and worked with Derek over 7 years, I can confidently say that you will be working with someone who embodies mindful and passionate performance in his work.” – Dr. Pippa Grange, Chief Culture Officer, Right to Dream

The stumble that turned into our mission

I can picture it like it was yesterday…yet it’s now been over 30 years ago. The event was the Olympic Trials for the Barcelona Olympic Games. There was a packed hometown crowd for the finals in the 110m hurdles event. I felt the pressure of knowing that today would decide the next phase of my life. 

I had a motivational t-shirt back then that read “No Pain, No Gain, No Spain”, but on that day, I experienced a different kind of pain than was expected. I got off to a slow start on the field. Sensing it wasn’t going well, I panicked which only made everything worse… I hit the final hurdle  – I ended up in last place. 

Feeling my Olympic dream was over, I was devastated. I wish I had the mindfulness skills back then to help me better prepare and also to get me through one of the darkest periods of my life. But I didn’t let that moment define me or keep me from staying true to my Olympic dream. 

I made the decision to turn the failure into something much bigger than myself: to help other athletes achieve their Olympic dreams – and this has been my mission ever since. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of helping other athletes over nine Olympic Games realize their dreams. 

And now I’m here to help YOU do the same, whatever your next big dream might be.


  • Director, Olympic Performance, Canadian Olympic Team
  • International athlete (110m Hurdle)
  • National Program Director and Team Leader, Athletics Canada
  • Track and Field Coach, University of Toronto
  • President and Executive Director, Aviron Quebec Rowing
  • Project Lead for High Performance Training Centers
  • Project Lead, Health and Safety, Major Events
  • Faculty member, Mindspace-Wellbeing by Niminus
  • Mindfulness teacher, Mindwell-U
  • Certified mindful performance enhancement (mPEAK) instructor School of Medicine, Centre for Mindfulness at the University California, San Diego
  • Master of Science, University of Toronto

The Olympic athletes were always front and centre for Derek and his strong commitment to them has made a significant impact during his time at the COC. Derek leaves us with a great legacy of team culture and sport performance.” – Eric Myles, Chief Sport Officer, Canadian Olympic Committee

We work with top performing organizations and teams from around the world ...

    • For National Olympic Committees to National Sport Federations to Local/Provincial Sport Federations
    • From elite athletes in Olympic sport (diving, gymnastics, rugby, rowing, swimming, kayaking)
    • To professional athletes in the National Hockey League
    • To junior and development athletes in a variety of different sports
    • To Olympic coaches, team leaders, and performance directors
    • As well as CEOs, entrepreneurs, first responders, musicians, and performing artists

Evidence-based Solutions Combined with Effective Execution

Take the next step by scheduling a call to chat about ways we can best work together to support you or your team.

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