SwimSwam proudly presents a new series, called SwimMomMonday in which “ordinary” swim mom Anne Lepesant talks to “extraordinary” swim moms about the similarities and differences we experience in raising swimmers. This week Anne talks with Erica Worrell, mom to Kelsi, Taylor, Kyle, Jared, Lindi and Skylar.
1. What is your background? Were you (are you) a competitive athlete?
I am not/was not a competitive athlete although I ran track in high school and qualified for the Junior Olympics in the high jump. When people ask me if I swam when I was younger, I jokingly say “no, but if I did, I would have been really good!”
2. When did you first realize you had an exceptional athlete on your hands?
I realized Kelsi was an exceptional swimmer the first season she swam on the summer swim team. She was 7 years old and she excelled that first year we joined. She learned to walk when she was only 8 months old and was always very strong and very active.
3. How have you managed to balance your athlete’s school / sports / social life / family life?
I have managed to balance my kids’ school/sports/social life/family life by making swimming the primary sport for our family, having a great carpool and learning what’s most important for each individual kid. Church activities have always been a priority and we always make time for church, youth group and missions trips. Every day I pray that God will give me wisdom and discernment to make wise choices for my family.
4. How differently do you mother your other children?
I try to mother my other children the same, but every one of my children are different and have different love languages, so I try to figure out how they will thrive the best with how I parent them. Some of my kids are very task oriented and will sacrifice social activities in order to achieve their goals, while others are more relationship oriented and will put their social activities higher on their priority list.
5. What is the best part about being a swim mom?
The best part about being a swim mom is that indoor swim venues are always warm & toasty when I’m cheering for my kids at a meet. I’m not the best spectator in cold weather and since most meets are inside, I enjoy being there cheering for my kids!
6. What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is juggling everyone’s different practice/meet schedule while trying to get to as many meets as possible. Having six kids ranging in age from 5-20 makes it very hard to get everyone where they need to be. I am a master of the carpool, but when I have multiple kids at multiple meets in multiple states in the same weekend, it is impossible to get to each meet. Thankfully we have family members across the country that have been able to make it to some of the college meets to represent our family and cheer for our college daughters. My kids also have amazing grandparents who love supporting them and will travel with them to other states for meets. I do love meets that are live-streamed and I can watch a college meet online while at an age group meet!
7. What is your favorite memory of your child’s swimming career?
My favorite memory of Kelsi’s swimming career is definitely watching her set the 100 butterfly record and break the 50 second barrier at women’s NCAA in March 2015…twice in the same day! I was finally able to coordinate care for my 4 kids still at home and to go to women’s NCAA in Greensboro. There were about 15 family members and friends who were there representing Team Worrell who witnessed that historical swim. It was awesome!! And I got to meet and hang out with the SwimSwam guys too!
8. Do you get nervous watching him/her swim?
I definitely still get nervous watching Kelsi race. She has had exercise induced asthma most of her life and I always worry that she will have trouble breathing during her races. Thankfully she’s more of a sprinter and I don’t have to worry for too long, but the 200 butterfly can be a nail biter!
9. How have you handled disappointing races/meets?
After disappointing races/meets, I try to ask my swimmers “how did you feel during the race”? Kelsi taught me that success in the pool can be fleeting. I remember when she was in high school and the disappointment she felt for a particular elite swimmer, a repeating state champion who did not win an event. Kelsi taught me empathy for those swimmers who have a bad meet. I always pray for health and safety for my children since illness and injury can strike anytime, especially right before a big meet.
10. What advice do you have for other swim moms?
The advice I have for other swim moms is to not coach your athlete. Let the team coaches and trainers coach and teach your athlete, while you encourage, love and support them in their sport. Also, encourage your swimmer to make friends with swimmers from other teams. They will most likely be competing against the same elite athletes throughout their career, so why not make friends with them? They may even room together at some of the top level meets in the future!
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.