Swim­ming for sur­vival

Olympic swim­mer and mum Janet evans gives life sav­ing tips.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - By LISA WE­BER

FOUR-TIME Olympic gold medal­list Janet Evans has signed on to be an am­bas­sador for the USA Swim­ming Foun­da­tion and its na­tional “Make A Splash” wa­ter safety ini­tia­tive.

As the new “Make a Splash Mum” and a mother of two, Janet un­der­stands the im­por­tance of teach­ing chil­dren to swim and has ded­i­cated her work to fur­ther­ing the cause of bat­tling child­hood drown­ing.

Janet chats with Celebrity Baby Scoop about the im­por­tance of learn­ing to swim and how the USA Swim­ming Foun­da­tion is work­ing to de­crease drown­ing rates among chil­dren through the “Make A Splash” ini­tia­tive. Tell us about your role as am­bas­sador for the USA Swim­ming Foun­da­tion and its na­tional “Make A Splash” wa­ter safety ini­tia­tive. What will you do as a “Make a Splash Mum”?

As a USA Swim­ming Foun­da­tion am­bas­sador and “Make A Splash” mum, my goal is to en­cour­age par­ents to en­roll their chil­dren in swim lessons. Drown­ing is an epi­demic in this coun­try. It crosses all so­cioe­co­nomic lev­els and the sta­tis­tics are stag­ger­ing – an aver­age of 10 drown­ing deaths are re­ported each day in the United States.

“Make A Splash” also fo­cuses on pro­vid­ing free and/or low-cost swim lessons to those who might not have ac­cess or ex­pend­able fi­nances for lessons. Ev­ery child (and adult!) in this coun­try needs to know how to swim and feel com­fort­able in the wa­ter. I am proud of the USA Swim­ming Foun­da­tion for tak­ing an ac­tive role in teach­ing chil­dren how to save their own lives and am hon­oured to be a part of it. What in­spired you to join the ini­tia­tive?

I am a mum of two young chil­dren and live in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Even be­fore I had chil­dren, I would read about drown­ings in and around our county. My par­ents put my broth­ers and I in swim lessons when I was very young (18 months) be­cause my mum can’t swim. The gift my par­ents gave us of teach­ing us how to swim was not taken for granted, and I com­mit­ted to get my

Four-time Olympic Gold Medal­ist swim­mer and uSa Swim­ming Foun­da­tion am­bas­sador Janet evans says her daugh­ter, Syd­ney (right), is an avid swim­mer and en­joys team com­pe­ti­tion. – MCT chil­dren swim­ming as early as I felt com­fort­able. Swim­ming is both a life skill and a life­sav­ing skill. I don’t see it as a lux­ury, I view it as an im­per­a­tive. What are some of your top life­sav­ing tips to pro­tect chil­dren from drown­ing?

My num­ber one tip is to get your kids ac­cred­ited swim in­struc­tion. The risk of drown­ing is re­duced by 88% when chil­dren take for­mal swim lessons. Not far be­hind is a re­minder to never take your eyes off your chil­dren while they’re in wa­ter, even if you think they are wa­ter safe. No one is com­pletely se­cure around the wa­ter, as ac­ci­dents hap­pen, where even the best swim­mers can run into trou­ble.

Sim­i­larly, do not de­pend on life­guards. While they’re well trained and pro­fi­cient, they might be watch­ing dozens of kids in a pool at one time. Drown­ing is silent. It hap­pens in two min­utes and can eas­ily be missed in a crowded pool.

Also, please in­stall a self-clos­ing gate if you have a back­yard pool and/or jacuzzi, and learn CPR. Tell us about your two chil­dren. What are their names and ages, and what do they like to do for fun?

My daugh­ter Syd­ney is seven. She has bound­less en­ergy and loves all things sports. She loves her weekly ten­nis lessons but her two favourite sports are ski­ing and swim­ming. In the spring and sum­mer, she’s in the pool with her swim team and then on the slopes all win­ter as part of the Mam­moth Moun­tain ski team.

My son, Jake, is four. He’s a bit mel­lower. I can put a Lego set in front of him and he will work on it for hours. But he likes swim­ming, too. He swam in his first meet this past weekend and is al­ready ask­ing when he can swim in an­other one. What are the main dif­fer­ences be­tween rais­ing a boy and rais­ing a girl?

That ques­tion makes me laugh! It has to be the drama that comes with rais­ing a girl. I like to joke that my daugh­ter is seven go­ing on 20 and my son is four go­ing on two. She can’t wait to grow up and ex­pe­ri­ence life while my son is per­fectly con­tent to hang with me and tells me that ev­ery day. Do you think they will also get into com­pet­i­tive swim­ming like their mum?

Syd­ney loves her com­pet­i­tive swim team so I have some­how be­come a swim par­ent. How­ever, I am very cog­nisant about giv­ing her other op­por­tu­ni­ties, so swim­ming is just one of the sports she par­tic­i­pates in. If she even­tu­ally de­cides to make swim­ming her “full time” sport, I will com­pletely sup­port her . . . but it is 100% her de­ci­sion. Jake loves em­u­lat­ing his big sis­ter, so I am sure if she gets more se­ri­ous about swim­ming, he will join the team as well. What kind of mum would they say you are? What is your par­ent­ing style like?

I think of my­self as a rel­a­tively mel­low mum who is dis­ci­plined about spe­cific things – bed­times, chores, clean­ing their rooms, how they eat, etc. My big phi­los­o­phy is the same one my par­ents had: if you are go­ing to do some­thing – swim team, ski team, ten­nis, piano lessons, etc – and my hus­band or I are go­ing to work hard to get them to their prac­tices/lessons, they will do it right. And if they de­cide they don’t want to do a spe­cific ac­tiv­ity, then they just have to say so.

I won’t make my kids par­tic­i­pate in some­thing they don’t want to. I have never met a sin­gle suc­cess­ful ath­lete or per­son who said they did some­thing be­cause their par­ents made them. All suc­cess comes from within. What are your great­est joys and chal­lenges of mother­hood?

Chal­lenges – find­ing time in the day to get it all done! Joys – all the mo­ments in be­tween get­ting things done, which are many. As most mums will tell you, mother­hood is hands down the best job ever. Do you have any plans for sum­mer?

We are go­ing camp­ing in Yosemite. Real camp­ing. It will be my first time ever, we’ll see how it goes. Syd­ney has been beg­ging us for the past year, prob­a­bly be­cause my hus­band loves to camp and is al­ways telling her how fun it is. Wish me luck. What other up­com­ing projects do you have?

My top pri­or­i­ties are be­ing a mum and serv­ing as am­bas­sador for the USA Swim­ming Foun­da­tion and its “Make A Splash” ini­tia­tive.

I am also en­joy­ing giv­ing mo­ti­va­tional speeches for var­i­ous com­pa­nies and or­gan­i­sa­tions on a fre­quent ba­sis.

And fi­nally, I am work­ing with a restau­rant called Lyfe Kitchen that is cur­rently open­ing in lo­ca­tions through­out the coun­try. We fo­cus on good-for-you food that tastes good, too. It’s a per­fect place for busy mums who want their fam­i­lies to eat healthy but might not have the chance to pre­pare the ideal meal ev­ery evening. – Celebri­ty­babyscoop.com/McClatchy Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Tak­ing af­ter mum:

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