My 7 year old son William started swimming in the summer of 2009. He used to love watching (from the kiddie pool!) the swim team practice in the morning, so I asked the coach what were the requirements for joining the summer team. He told me, “As long as he can swim one lap of the pool without stopping, he can join.” I told William the news and it was his GOAL all summer to be able to swim one lap, so he could be on the team. I wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to do it, he was only 5 years, but every single afternoon he asked me to help him learn how to swim. And every single afternoon I was with him in the “big pool” trying to get him to kick his feet and move his arms.
He was motivated as can be… and guess what happened by August? He swam one lap of the pool all by himself.
I still cry when I see that video. William looks so small, but he was so determined and so anxious to do it. As William’s gotten older, his love and passion for swimming has only gotten more and more strong. He’s my little fish and he’s obsessed with the Summer Games coming and watching his favorite swimmers and HEROES swim.
Ryan Lochte is one of those swimmers he adores and looks up to. He has photos of Ryan Lochte in his bedroom and he watches his swimming videos on YouTube all the time. He’s someone William wants to be just like, and as his mother… I love it. Ryan’s a wonderful role model for young swimmer’s and he’s someone who I am proud my son looks up to.
When I was at P&G’s “Thank you, Mom” Media Event in NYC earlier this month, I had the opportunity to meet Ryan Lochte and his wonderful mother, Ileana Lochte.
There was something striking about seeing Ileana with Ryan, the true love and admiration of a mother to a child. Maybe it’s because I have only sons, and I don’t know the bond of a mother and a daughter, but I was struck by seeing the two of them together. She was proud of her son, proud from head-to-toe. It was a beautiful thing.
Watching Ileana, I wondered… how does one raise an Olympic swimmer? I have a little boy who dreams of who being a “Ryan Lochte” someday, but what was it like raising that very Ryan Lochte?
I absolutely love P&G’s Raising an Olympian series… they are the most powerful and inspiring and motivating videos. The story from the beginning, before all their names were in lights and in print. The stories that only mom knows, only mom remembers…
Watching this video, I take a few things away from Ileana. I love her opening words —
“The best gift a parent can get is when their children are doing something that they really love.”
So true. So real. So correct.
And I love that she didn’t want to be that domineering parent. I see these types of parents all the time. I just loved hearing that Ileana took a different approach and it worked. “I didn’t want to be the one that pushed my kid to hate the sport.”
But it’s what she said with tears in her eyes that made me tear up, too.
“Your children are always the greatest, but when you see them up there and they’reir number 1 or even number 2, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Ryan Lochte seems to sum it up beautifully about his mother, “If it wasn’t for my mom, I don’t know where I’d be.”
Thank you Ileana for raising an Olympian and allowing hims to open the dreams and goals for all these younger swimmers behind him.
This is what I found in William’s backpack last week as to what he wants to be when he’s older…