Want your children to follow in your athletic footsteps? I don't

Feb. 25, 2010 at 11:15 AM ET

I started swimming competitively when I was in third grade and didn't take off my proverbial goggles until 12 years later. Swimming took me around the world, it influenced my college decision, it introduced me to lifelong friends. The sport was by far one of the most influential factors during my formative years. I hope my children never become swimmers. If my mom is reading this right now, I know she's cringing, but she shouldn't! I don't regret my time in the water. I'm particularly grateful for those life lessons -- like determination and commitment -- which I use to this day. But having an intimate knowledge of a sport brings with it an intimate knowledge of its downsides. I don't want my children waking up at 4 a.m. to squeeze in a practice before school, only to go to two more practices once classes are over. I don't want them spending hours isolated with their own thoughts while staring at a black line at the bottom of a pool. I'd much rather my children excel at a team sport like soccer or basketball or get into group activities like theater or music. These are just the musings of a mediocre athlete whose sacrifices were nothing compared to those who compete on a national, let alone international, level. What about Olympians? Do men and women who have dedicated their lives to a sport, who have made a living and gained fame through their athletic endeavors, hope their children follow in their footsteps? I asked this question of several past and present Olympic champions here in Vancouver and was surprised by some of their responses:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economySo what do you think? Do you hope your children take up the sports you participated in or do you wish for them to follow a different path?Jen Brown is a producer for stories:

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