Just in time for Mother’s Day, SwimSwam proudly presents a new series, called SwimMomMonday. “Ordinary” swim mom Anne Lepesant talks to “extraordinary” swim moms about the similarities and differences we experience in raising swimmers. Her first conversation is with Stacy Clary, mother of Olympic gold medalist Tyler, outstanding hockey forward Lonzo, and national 400 IM champion Lindsey.
1. What is your background? Were you (are you) a competitive athlete?
I am not / was not a competitive athlete although I do enjoy sports and being active, have participated in a few sprint triathlons but not at a high level. I have crazy carpool skills though, does that count?
2. When did you first realize you had an exceptional athlete on your hands?
What parent doesn’t think their child is exceptional? Although, I don’t think anyone looks at their child and thinks – YOU are exceptional as we are reminding them to do their homework, clean their room, empty the trash, they are just normal kids.
Tyler – We didn’t know there was a Jr. National team until coach Kevin Perry (FAST) had Tyler look up the qualifying times. I remember thinking – that’s fast. He made his first Jr. National Team and that big bag of clothes showed up at the door with the American flag on it, that was an eye opener.
Lonzo – was drafted by the NAHL Fairbanks Ice Dogs in 2012, he had won the Tier II USA Hockey National Championship at age 16 but having him drafted individually was a moment that stands out for me. They have since gone on to win the 2014 Robertson Cup National Championship. (Editor’s note: Lonzo recently committed to play hockey at RPI next fall.)
Lindsey – Watching her swim in her first OW race at Nationals a few years ago in Castaic Lake, CA. She had never swam open water previously (qualified with her pool time) and actually led the race for a few laps, she ended up making the Nat’l Jr. team for OW and being on the podium for the first time.
3. How have you managed to balance your children’s school / sports / social life / family life?
That has been difficult at times; priority has always been placed on family life first, eating dinner together every night even if that meant just being together when the other ate. Helping them understand that it wouldn’t matter how good they were at their sport if they weren’t able to get into college – there were many late nights, homework done in the car on the way home. We like to have a lot of fun, all 3 of my children are very social so that has never been an issue, other than the teachers and coaches feeling they were at times too social – hahaha!
I always knew if they were willing to call their coach (I certainly wasn’t going to do it 🙂 ) and let them know they needed time off, they needed time off. They know when they need a mental break, not me.
4. How differently do you mother your other children?
As in every family, each one is very different from the other so it is a balancing act. Each one accuses me of the other being my favorite – hahaha. I hope I’m not the only mom this happens to…. Tyler is very independent / opinionated and competitive, Lonzo is more of a free spirit/risk taker and Lindsey is more like Tyler. Each one requires a different approach and a lot of love.
5. What is the best part about being a swim mom?
It is definitely not morning workout I’ll tell you that! Being a part of the swim team family, cheering and supporting each other. Being at meets watching other athletes you have seen grow up and visiting with them and their families.
6. What has been your biggest challenge?
I think I’m experiencing that now. I would say having to choose between events due to scheduling. All 3 are out of the house, in different time zones and schedules.
It is sometimes challenging to have the kids compared to each other when they are so different from each other. Different goals, different interests.
7. What is your favorite memory of your child’s swimming career?
It would be easy to say watching Tyler realize he had just won a gold medal, but for me watching him make the team after having missed previously is probably my favorite memory. Afterwards we went back to the hotel, ordered room service and he just looked at me with an incredulous look on his face and said “I’m an Olympian”.
8. Do you get nervous watching him/her swim?
Absolutely, every time, doesn’t get easier. My knees start shaking, I feel a lot of anxiety before races/games. No matter how old they get, how much they accomplish it is still your child up there and I just can’t help but be nervous.
9. How have you handled disappointing races/meets?
Always reminding them that they were very fortunate to have been in the race / final / game and there is always someone who would love to be in their position. Trying to get them to focus on what they learned from the disappointment rather than to focus on the disappointment.
10. What advice do you have for other swim moms?
Enjoy every moment, it’s over before you know it and then they are gone.
Anne Lepesant is an ordinary swim mom. Her four daughters have been with Swim Pasadena since 2004 and now two swim in college (Caroline is a junior at SCAD Savannah; Victoria, a sophomore at Princeton) and two in high school (Madeleine and Isabelle attend Pasadena High School). In this series, Anne explores the question: “ordinary” swim mom to “extraordinary” swim mom, what it’s like to raise truly exceptional swimmers? What experiences have we all shared? Where do our paths diverge? Stay tuned for some interesting #SwimMomMonday conversations.