First Round: Pooled returns

First Round has always been hugely admiring of those individuals who, not content with a first career in elite sport, then decide to give themselves a fresh challenge by moving into high finance.

Apart from anything else, it must be so difficult psychologically. If you’re used to a world which rewards a single-minded, almost selfish approach to advancement, coupled with a borderline psychopathic ability to elbow aside competing concerns and an obsessive pursuit of incremental gains, how can you possibly translate that to the world of banking, where…. Oh.

Anyway, we were reminded of this recently upon discovering that fund management behemoth BlackRock (whose AUM is so large that First Round can’t even say it without falling over) has just hired former Olympic swimming medallist Stephan Caron to head up a new direct corporate lending platform it’s setting up in Europe.

Caron was previously with GE Capital – but much more interestingly, he used to be an elite swimmer, winning bronze medals in the 100m freestyle at both the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, not to mention a gold in the 1985 European Championships and a silver in the 1986 World Championships. You wouldn’t want him stuck behind you in the gym pool.

But by far the best thing about this story is that Caron’s new boss at BlackRock will be… wait for it… Michael Phelps! That’s right: the American swimming legend, the most decorated Olympian in history, is apparently looking to bounce back from his recent unfortunate brush with the law by taking a senior role at BlackRock – thus allowing two-times bronze medallist Caron to once again experience what it’s like to have a world-class swimmer in front of him!

(Not that Michael Phelps, you pillock. This one’s BlackRock’s European Head of Credit Enhanced Strategies. Ed.)

Oh, OK, different guy. Apologies. Still funny though.