Swim Mom: An Unlikely Role Model – Ryan Lochte

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Swimming offers our kids amazing role models. Whether it’s older kids on their team, coaches, or Olympic heroes, the sport is filled with extraordinary people. This past week we saw Ryan Lochte make an amazing comeback and win gold at U.S. Nationals. With Lochte’s story, we can tell our kids that he’s human and messed up, wasn’t a great role model in Rio, but look how he’s learned, grown and improved as a person. And yes, he can still swim fast! Throughout the ups and downs of Lochte’s career, there’s one thing that is clear—he never gives up. Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history, and has overcome his demons to become an incredible role model for our children. Olympic medalist Kaitlin Sandeno overcame asthma, injuries, is a TV personality and serves as a spokesperson for the Jessie Rees Foundation, bringing joy to children fighting cancer.

Swimming is filled with talented, hard working people our children can learn from. It’s a proud moment when we watch our children become role models for the younger kids on their team, too.

Why are these swimmers worthy of our children’s admiration?

Amazing talent.
The world of swimming is filled with talent. Lochte, Phelps and Sandeno are three of many people who were given an extra helping of talent.

Hard work.
Swimming doesn’t allow shortcuts to success. At some point, talent won’t cut it without years of hard work. All successful swimmers put in hard work to achieve greatness.

According to Angela Ducksworth who wrote the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” talent and luck will only get you so far. “Grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow,” she wrote.

Being in the spotlight has tested more than a few of our famous swimmers. We tend to respect those who show humility and put their team ahead of their own glory. Humility is a trait of great character.

Not afraid to fail.
It takes a special courage to lay it all out on the line with no guarantees for success. The top swimmers don’t show fear of failure. They are willing to give their races everything they have, all the time.

Pick themselves up.
The ability to fail yet try again is something that will benefit our children throughout their lives. It’s easier to say, I can’t do it, it’s impossible and quit. Yet, swimmers try again after experiencing excruciating injuries or setbacks.

What other traits do role models share that can benefit our kids?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

I too plan to instruct my kids that if they are caught doing something, that they should lie about it, instruct their friends to lie about it, stick with the lie even after it has been proven that they are lying, and then tell them that even if they are lying that as long as they continue to perform well athletically everyone will forget the what occurred and forgive them.

Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago


6-beat kick
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

I think you missed the point.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

Or you could tell them to get two DUIs (including a felony DUI charge) and get to carry to flag at the opening ceremonies. As Charles Barkley said, “Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

1 year ago

How has he shown that he has grown as a person? He just finished serving a suspension.

Reply to  JimSwim22
1 year ago

It was a very innocent suspension. You clearly know nothing about it

Reply to  Thomas
1 year ago

Innocent? He is innocent of knowing the rules that govern the athletic world. And he was ‘allegedly’ recovering from a hangover when he did it. I’m all for his swimming and think it would be awesome if he makes the Tokyo team, but as a role model you’ve got to be kidding me.

Scott Morgan
1 year ago

I personally find scant lessons in the life story of Lyan Lochte to pass onto my kids. Sorry!

Reply to  Scott Morgan
1 year ago

Let’s give the second most decorated Olympian and father of two more credit

Reply to  Thomas
1 year ago

A father no way

Reply to  Scott Morgan
1 year ago

You clearly never saw Mr Lochte in action with his young swim fans. I saw him standing forever signing autographs at a Grand Prix event after sessions. This at the same event where the GOAT swam his race and ducked out of the facility as quickly as possible. Yeah, Ryan’s not perfect, but he does have many redeeming qualities. His work ethic leading up to London is legend, his continued efforts to bounce back and push his body past people’s expectations of what someone can accomplish at his age are also to be admired.

Reply to  1001pools
1 year ago

Kids should and do look up to him for his swimming- best male swimmer not named Michael Phelps – ever. He also shows he loves the sport- more visible and accessible at the meets than many stars. Wouldn’t want my kids to aspire to his off-the-deck behavior.

Reply to  Gator
1 year ago

Lochte had some off the deck behavior that was not a saint but those are also the type of mistakes that anyone can made. He did eventually own up to his drunken behavior, served the suspension/punishment from USA Swimming. If we insist that only perfect person can be role model, there won’t be anyone left. Lochte’s willingness to stick with swimming and training through the thick and thin, and try to improve himself are lessons to learn.

Reply to  Scott Morgan
1 year ago

Did you see him give his gold medal to the kid who brought out the medals? You know nothing about the man. He has taught my kids some incredible things.