Olympian Dara Torres’ 9-year-old daughter Tessa loves swimming — and her mom swears it’s not a genetic thing. Instead, it’s a fun thing.
“She really, really likes it,” Torres told TODAY Parents. “She’s tried tennis, soccer, dance — but she’s really stuck with swimming. She just enjoys it!”
That’s right: Torres, 48, who has competed in five Olympic Games and won 12 Olympic medals, is now a swim mom herself. She dutifully takes Tessa to swim practice near their Massachusetts home twice a week — and then she quickly disappears.
“I leave and go to dinner!” Torres said with a laugh. “It keeps me from getting too involved or looking at coach and thinking, ‘Wait a minute ...’ I think it’s important to let the kids enjoy their time and let the coaches coach.”
Here are some additional insights Torres shared about life as swim mom:
Swimming is a team sport
“So many parents enroll their children in swimming lessons but never really think about swimming as a team sport. It is, though! Being a part of a swim team is one of the most fun and most rewarding experiences a child can have. You’re cheering your teammates on and helping each other. It’s so much fun. My daughter’s always smiling after she goes swimming.”
Related: Kids hate sunscreen, cold water? Olympian Dara Torres helps with 5 common pool problems
Swimming has no benchwarmers (or benches)
“I like it that everyone gets to participate on a swim team. No one is left out.”
Unlike other team sports, swimming can last a lifetime
“Once kids learn how to swim, it’s something they can keep doing all their lives. There are not a lot of injuries in swimming. It’s very easy on your joints.”
Parents don’t need to get too stressed
“My mom was very laid-back (as a swim mom). She took me to every swim meet, but she never questioned anything. She never watched my practices. I don’t know if she knew my times! But she was always there at every meet.”
Kids love and cherish their swim moms (and dads)!
“I was swimming in international when I was 14, so I had to go to other places at that point, and my mom and coach would come too. I think my mom saw how much I loved it and really wanted me to stay in it because I loved it so much. She sacrificed so much. That’s why I gave her one of my gold medals.”
Dara Torres lives in Dover, Massachusetts, and is a spokeswoman for SwimToday, which connects parents and kids with swim teams near them.
Follow TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Twitter @ltcoff and Google+.