National Girls and Women in Sports Day

National Girls and Women in Sports Day

This year, February 8, 2018 is the national observance of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. In honor of this event celebrating the achievements, contributions, and milestones of girls and women in sports, we put together a list of books, documentaries, and other media to recognize the importance of empowering girls and women through sports.

Keeping The Big Picture in Mind

Keeping The Big Picture in Mind

As winter training comes to an end and championship season gets closer, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get back in the pool and back to work in the classroom. Practices are long, and the days are short. The break from school hardly felt like a break at all. It’s during this time of year that we remember that swimming is as tough mentally as it is physically.

The physical drain of winter training can often seem like the hardest part, but when you are looking down the lane as your coach yells out the warm out, the ability to stay positive and get in the right mindset can be even harder. The choices that you make now and the way you handle the challenges you face will only make you stronger when championship season rolls around. Here are four tips from the LEAD Team to help with the January grind and to help you stay motivated.

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1. Reflect on preseason goals

Look back at the goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Remind yourself of the cuts that you want to reach and the aspirations that you have for yourself. This is also a great time to reflect on your mid-season meet. Were you able to make the changes that you wanted to improve on this season? Or even better, have you beaten some of your goal times? Now is great to be realistic about the areas that you want to improve or perhaps make new goals for yourself.

2. Act on those goals

Reflect on the advice you received from your coaches over the past few months and begin to make those changes if you haven’t already. Remember, your goals do not all have to be time-based and you can have practice goals for yourself as well. If been wanting to have better under-waters in your races, start your warm up with that goal in mind. By thinking about it throughout warm-up, it will be easier to remember in the main set. And if you work on it every day in practice, it will be easier to remember at a meet. By making something a habit and building your confidence, you’ll set yourself up to see big changes.

3. Focus on the little things (for the big picture)

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Keeping your goals in mind during practice is a great way to focus on something other than how hard training can be. If you start to feel overwhelmed, try to keep yourself in the now. Break each set into pieces, and pay attention to how your body is moving through the water. Work on  controlling your nerves, and focus on positive self talk. By keeping your mind on the little things -   what is currently happening, what you are currently feeling in the water, and the goal that you set for yourself at the beginning of the workout - you can start to piece together everything you’ve been working on this season and feel things start to fall into place. By focusing on the now, you will be able to achieve so much more than what you think you can.

4) Never lose sight of what's most important

There is a reason why you are doing this. Your hopes and dreams have gotten you this far and it is so important not to lose sight of that. Even when it feels like things are going wrong, don’t forget that you are not alone. Your teammates are there with you, through the same sets and the same meets - lean on each other. Every time you step foot on the pool deck, you have the opportunity to be a good teammate.

Think about it: your teammates have big goals, just like you do. How cool will it be to see them achieve their dreams at the end of the season? And won’t it be awesome to celebrate with your team when you achieve yours? Or on the flip side, if you or your teammates don’t have the season you planned for, it’s just as important to offer support and keep each other motivated all the way through the meet. A team performing well and supporting each other at the end of the season is a much more powerful force than any one swim.

By encouraging the people around you and setting manageable daily goals for yourself, you can conquer the rest of the season. Taper will be here before you know it! By keeping your goals in mind, acting on them, and focusing on the little things, you can keep the big picture in mind and set yourself and your team up for a rewarding championship season.


This post was written by contributing writer Mary Motch. Mary is a sophomore at the College of William & Mary and specializes in sprint freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke. 


Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide

Tis the season for finding that gift! Are you a parent trying to think of what to get your swimmer for the holiday season? Or is your best friend a swimmer but you have no idea what to get him/her? Or are you just trying to get a present for your siblings to avoid that awkward moment during the family gift exchange? Either way, if you are looking for swimming gifts for this holiday season, you have come to the right place!

1) Any Jolyn swimsuit/product

With the undeniable popularity of their one-piece swimsuits, you’ll be hard pressed not to see them during any swim meet warm-up. Jolyn now has expanded ranges of dryland apparel (hello soft leggings!), 2 piece swimsuits, and a variety of different back types for one pieces. If your swimmer needs a new training suit, fashionable bikini, or dryland gear, you can bet you’ll find them something at Jolyn. Not sure of a size or suit style they will want (hey Dad, we’ve all been there) then a gift card is perfect!

2) A subscription to SwimSwam Magazine

Do you know anyone in your life that seems to practically live on “Meet Mobile”? Do they frantically look at their Splash magazine as soon as it comes in the mail, or snag the Speedo catalog when it arrives? If you have a swim nerd in your life, this 12 month subscription is the perfect gift - and it keeps on giving!

3) Swimming themed jewelry

There is nothing cuter than gifting the swimmer in your life accessories or jewelry to show their favorite sport some love even when they’re outside of the pool. Our newest obsession is this collaborative bracelet between Confidence Coach Christen Shefchunas and the LEAD Sports Summit with their special edition: “I will LEAD” Confidence Nugget bracelet. It reminds whoever wears it that they are strong, confident Leaders. Also searching sites like Etsy and is a no-brainer for this sort of thing!

4) Goggles

You truly cannot go wrong by giving the gift of sight. Every swimmer loves to get new goggles and you can definitely guarantee they won’t go to waste. Our favorites are the Pink Vanquisher Speedo goggles you catch Missy Franklin wearing in nearly all her races. Hey - if it’s good enough for Missy, it’s gotta be good enough for the swimmer in your life!

5) Motivational wall decor

Something that can give that extra push of motivation when the dreaded 5am alarm comes ringing is some rad wall art. Most kids and teens enjoy hanging their favorite singer or boy band on their bedroom walls - but not swimmers! We have scouted out the best places for some awesome swim-art: this classic shot of the G.O.A.T., this motivational saying, a Touch The Wall movie poster, this geometrical pool dream art, and this little kick-in-the-pants slogan we all need to remember from time to time.

6) Tickets to a high level meet

Do you live close to a TYR Pro Swim Series meet? Or perhaps you are able to make a trip out to one of the larger competitions such as NCAA’s (Women’s in Columbus, OH/Men’s in Minneapolis, MN) or Phillips 66 Nationals in Irvine, CA. Giving your swimmer the opportunity to watch some of the fastest athletes in the sport compete at a high level can truly be exciting and inspirational! And hey, if you get two tickets you can tell people you saw Katie Ledecky swim in person too, which is pretty cool!

7) A Swim Parka

Never underestimate the need for a swim parka. Cold at a meet? Put the parka on. Cold and you don’t want others to see you still in your pajamas rolling up to practice? Grab your parka. Too lazy to look like a real person after practice? Shoveling your parent’s driveway? Trying to stop your hair from freezing as you go to the car? Parka. Parka. Parka. Whether your swimmer competes outdoors in sunny Florida or live in the cold state of Minnesota, the usefulness of a parka is endless. Our newest favorite is this swim parka made specifically for girls by girls! Check it out here and get in on the action early by donating to their kickstarter campaign.

8) A Ticket to the 2018 LEAD Sport Summit

The ultimate Christmas gift. For the teenage swimmer girl that has it all, get her the gift of self-confidence, empowerment and an opportunity to hang with her swimming heroes! The LEAD Sports Summit, founded by Kara Lynn Joyce, is a 4-day 3-night event that takes place in Atlanta, GA over Labor Day weekend. Attendees will learn about nutrition, confidence, leadership, perseverance, mental health and so much more! Tickets go fast so if you do end up snagging a spot, consider yourself lucky. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop!

9) A new swim bag

Roll up to any practice or swim meet in America and expect to see swim bags of all shapes, sizes and colors. Gift your swimmer a bright new swim bag to lug their gear around comfortably and give them a new canvas to collect all their favorite autographs. Getting them embroidered or matching their team colors is always a nice touch. We’re loving this TYR American themed backpack because you can never go wrong representing the red, white and blue!

10) A private lesson with an Olympian

Probably one of the most innovative and proven ways to correct technique mistakes is to use video review. Give your swimmer the gift of all 4 strokes by signing them up for a private lesson at SwimLabs. SwimLabs employs Olympians at some of their locations making it the ultimate 1-on-1 session they’re bound to never forget! They have locations nationwide, check here to see if there is one near you!

5:10 with Samantha Huge

5:10 with Samantha Huge

Welcome back to 5 in 10, a series of 5 questions in 10 minutes "For Women Who LEAD." This week our 5:10 For Women Who LEAD features a woman who is making her presence felt in a heavily male dominated field. Samantha Huge, the newly appointed athletic director at the college of William and Mary, is a part of only 13% of women that have that role in NCAA D1 programs. A true trailblazer, this former student athlete is adding a fresh perspective for D1 athletics.

My​ ​Personal​ ​Experience​ ​at​ ​the​ ​LEAD​ ​Summit​ by Lindsee Newman

My​ ​Personal​ ​Experience​ ​at​ ​the​ ​LEAD​ ​Summit​ by Lindsee Newman

Sophia and I at our first camp 4 years ago and Sophia and I at LEAD in 2017

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It's hard for me to say what part of the LEAD Sports Summit was my favorite. Meeting all the Olympians, the in-pool lesson, the speeches, the bonding, the presents...
I'll have to admit, when my Justin's peanut butter was confiscated at the airport on my way back home, it almost brought me to tears. It. Was. Awful. However, I got through it and came back home with so many different memories, pictures, and amazing gifts (and a quick run to the grocery store for more Justin's)!
I've been to two different swim camps in my life but the LEAD Summit beats the other ones by a L O N G shot. I went to LEAD Summit because of my mom and Kara Lynn. She has been so good to my team the Woodmoor Waves (it's okay I know you have never heard of us, yet). Leading into the event, my expectations were low because I have been disappointed by camps and clinics before, but the second I arrived my expectations were exceeded! I'll never forget when I got the hotel on the first day, my best friend Sophia and I were getting checked in when all of the sudden Sophia turns around:
“Okay, Lindsee, stay calm, but I just saw Missy Franklin!”
We had so many experiences with Missy, Kara, Elizabeth and the other mentors all throughout the weekend, I must have taken a thousand pictures from the trip.
“Oh look, Missy is taking pictures again! Want to get another one?”
“Of course!”
“Guess what Sophia! Elizabeth Beisel thought there were leeches in the lake so she got on my paddle board! It was AMAZING!”
And so many more crazy conversations, it was truly amazing. 
The second day of camp felt like Christmas...but better! It took all my willpower and strength to not start crying when I walked into my hotel room and saw the UGG slippers, Jolyn bathing suits and leggings, and so many other gifts! Literally the most amazing feeling ever!
At first, I was afraid the talks and seminars would be boring but I was definitely mistaken - I learned so much! Today, as I write this, I am drinking tart cherry juice, getting enough vitamin D, and getting my servings of beets (yeah beets, thanks Jenn Brunelli)!
Learning about being a leader was the most impactful for me. Recently my coach of 4 years left the team and we lost 3 graduating seniors. I didn't know what this would do to the team but I knew it was going to open a space for new leaders to step up. With everything Sophia and I learned from LEAD and Elizabeth's Leadership talk, I'm happy to report that the team is doing well and is stronger than ever. 
The most amazing thing that happened to me personally at this camp was Eva Fabian and Kara Lynn Joyce talking to me about open water swimming. I'm a distance swimmer but open water is never something I'd given much thought to. Eva taught me how to sight in open water at the swim clinic portion of the summit and Kara encouraged me to give it a try because it played to a lot of my strengths as an athlete. The week after I got back from LEAD I entered into a 2.4 mile swim in the Horsetooth reservoir. I was unaware CSU, UNC, and the Air Force were all competing as well, but nevertheless I worked up the courage and remembered all of the advice Eva gave me. It was the best race I have ever swam and I'm happy to report I finished in first place - I am in LOVE with open water swimming and I plan to do a 5k as soon as I can! 
I’d like to thank LEAD summit and all the amazing sponsors for the greatest EXPERIENCE I’ve ever had. I hope to come back!

Lindsee Newman, age 14.

First place finish in Open Water

Giving Back

Giving Back

Think back to the first swim meet you ever attended. Whether your first meet was when you were 6 years old or a freshman in high school, remember how nervous you were? Did your nerves keep you up the night before? Remember the feeling of walking out on the pool deck and not being sure where you should go?

Now stop and think about the people that helped you that day and made your first meet easier. Did your coach watch out for you? Or was there a parent on the deck that made sure you got to your event on time? Or perhaps there was an older swimmer that told you when to warm up.

Go back to that time and think about the older kids on the team that were role models for you. Did they give you a congratulatory high five after your race or maybe even a fist bump? Did you watch there behind the block routine? Maybe they were even an inspiration to you as you watched them swim a whole 100 fly across the pool.

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Swimming is one of those extremely special sports where athletes of all ages are able to train and compete together at the same time. For many of the younger swimmers, they have the opportunity to watch the people they look up to race their hearts out. They don’t care if you go a best time, just watching the older kids means so much to them.

Something that we tend to take for granted as we get older is the effect we have on the people around us, especially those children. As you get older, it is so easy to get caught up meeting your time goals, that we more often than not, fail to notice the younger eyes that are looking up to us. Going out of your way to boost the confidence or ease the nerves of a teammate, can be the boost they need to swim just a little bit faster.  Something so simples as a high five behind the blocks or asking them if they have any questions can really help make them feel even more part of the team.

The best part about this is that you don’t need to be a college swimmer or even a high school swimmer to be a mentor or a leader for someone on your team. You can inspire your current teammates, or even be a mentor to someone that is older than you but whom might be new to the sport. We can always learn from each other.

As the holiday season and mid-season meets start coming your way, make sure you stop and appreciate all the little things the swimming community does for you. Then try to pass that on by doing something as simple as complimenting a younger swimmer on a great practice, or by congratulating them at a swim meet, regardless if it’s a best time or not. Being a mentor to a younger athlete might seem intimidating at first, but starting with something as simple as an encouraging gesture can make all the difference.   

We challenge you to be a better mentor by:

  • Advice: Go out of your way to give helpful tips and share what you have learned during your time being apart of the sport.

  • Guidance: Ask a younger athlete if they have questions or need any help if you notice that they are struggling.

  • Encouragement: Be there for positive support by congratulating your younger teammates no matter what.

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This post was written by contributing writer Mary Motch. Mary is a sophomore at the College of William & Mary and specializes in sprint freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke. 

The Power of Team Positivity

The Power of Team Positivity

Have you ever seen your coach write the main set on the board and had an overwhelming feeling that you don’t know if you can survive? You see line after line, one fast effort after another, and all you can do is take a deep breath. Your coach describes the set, but you zone out, wondering how you will make it through. The next thing you know, your coach tells you to leave on the top. You place your foggy goggles over your eyes and get ready to push off the wall.

As the set continues, your team is surrounded by silence. All you can hear is your coach, the water, and your teammates gasping for air. As the pain begins to set in, you wonder how long the set will take. You grind through lap after lap, without the support of your teammates.

Eventually, your hand hits the wall after the last 25 and you are exhausted. Your coach tells the team “nice job” but you join your teammates in complaining how hard the set was. No one congratulates each other for their efforts before pushing off for warm down.  

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Now, envision the same set like this: This time, your teammates are the ones that are encouraging you. Before you even start the set, your teammate next to you looks you in the eye and says, “You’ve got this!” You respond with “Let’s go!” Your coach reminds you to take each effort as it comes and to not get overwhelmed by what’s written on the board. Take it piece by piece, one effort at a time. Always give 100% of what you have right now.

As you make your way through the set this go around, each time your hand hits the wall you hear your teammates yelling your name. While your coach yells splits and keeps the enthusiasm alive. The set is challenging, but you feel empowered by your teammates’ energy, and you feel like you are a part of everyone’s success, not just your own. By focusing on your teammates’ success in the set and pushing yourself harder at the same time, you are not only swimming for yourself, but for your team.

After the last 25, everyone high fives each other and says what a great set that was. As you warm down, you feel yourself smile even though you can barely feel your legs. You made it! Your teammates made it! You conquered the set.

Some people don’t consider swimming as a team sport. Especially at the club level, it can seem like you are swimming just to get best times. You might even see your teammates as your competitors. For some swimmers, the first time they feel the team comradery of swimming is in high school. For other swimmers, they won’t truly feel like they are swimming for others until they hit college swimming. In a positive team environment, you feel like you are swimming for something bigger than your personal best times. Your personal goals still matter, of course, but when you step up to the blocks, you feel a connection to all your teammates that wear the same cap, all the students that attend your school, and all the alumni that came before you.

There is nothing more powerful than having your teammates encouraging you from the water in the middle of a tough set. They share the pain you are going through, but knowing there is a group of people right there who want you to succeed is a motivating and magical feeling unlike any other.

If you come from a team that is usually on the quiet side, speak up during practice and challenge your teammates to encourage each other. If you feel like you don’t know how or are nervous to take that step, ask your coach about how you can create more positive energy during the main set. No matter how old you are, any coach will be more than willing to have a conversation with your group to create a dynamic team environment. Happy swimmers are fast swimmers, and a group of teammates that supports each other through practice is a force to be reckoned with.

Next time you see a challenging set written on the board, we challenge you to:

·      Replace any negative thoughts with positive ones.

·      Give the teammates in your lane encouragement before the set begins.

·      Throughout the set, check in with your teammates and cheer on their efforts.

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This post was written by contributing writer Mary Motch. Mary is a sophomore at the College of William & Mary and specializes in sprint freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke. 

2017 Lead Sports Summit Wrap!

2017 Lead Sports Summit Wrap!

The first ever LEAD Sports Summit took place in Austin, TX from September 2-4, 2017.  The entire weekend exceeded our expectations and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with all 76 young swimmers.

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Each girl left with experiences they'll never forget, friendships, swag, and memories, but most importantly, they left with a stronger and more empowered sense of self than when they came. Jenn Brunelli, Elizabeth Beisel, Christie Shefchunas, Missy Franklin, Kara Lynn Joyce, Madisyn Cox and Eva Fabian took the stages at LEAD with confidence, compassion, and the desire to break down barriers, relate, inform, and empower.

"I want to keep growing the event. Listening to Missy talk about perseverance, the only thing I could think of was how there are so many girls that would benefit from being in this room, and I want to give more girls that opportunity."

- LEAD Founder Kara Lynn Joyce

LEAD Summit Press:

Olympic Channel: Olympians come together to empower young swimmers

SwimSwam: Olympians give praise to the inaugural LEAD Sports Summit

5:10 with Haley Chura

5:10 with Haley Chura

Welcome to 5 in 10, a series of 5 questions in 10 minutes "For Women Who LEAD." Our first 5:10 For Women Who LEAD features professional athlete and all-around tough chick, Haley Chura. After suffering a brutal broken leg injury from a head-on car/bike crash, Haley stormed back to win the IronMan Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in June 2017.  

We have 5 questions for Haley to find out a little more about what/who inspires her and what drives her to become a champion.

1. KLJ: What did you aspire to be when you were younger?

HC: When I was younger, the very first thing I wanted to be was a paleontologist to study dinosaurs. I grew up in Montana and dinosaurs were a big thing there - don’t all little kids have an appreciation for that stuff??

KLJ: You actually became a CPA for a while.

HC: Yes! I was an accountant which was my slightly older aspiration, and I actually did that and it was a good job.

KLJ: And now you’re a professional athlete?

HC: Yeah! Life doesn’t always turn out how you expect.  

2. KLJ: What would you tell your younger self about your life now?

HC: I think I would just say learn as much as you can and appreciate every moment that you’re in because things WILL change. Appreciate the phase you’re in; appreciate being a kid swimming, being a high school swimmer, being a college swimmer, being in your early 20’s and swimming masters etc. Just appreciate each step because it changes so much and nothing will ever stay the same. Be present.

3. KLJ: What brings out your confidence when you’re feeling low?

HC: I did struggle with confidence issues a LOT in the earlier part of my swimming career, and even through college. I think I get confidence now from experience, from knowing that I’ve been in this position before, and even if things didn’t go perfect, everything was still okay in the end.  I get confidence from my training and from the people around me. If the people around me believe in me, that breathes life into me and really helps build my confidence.  

4. KLJ: Who inspires you?

HC: Oh my gosh, there’s so many! Even now in my triathlon days, I’m inspired by my time at the University of Georgia and being with such a strong group of when was so inspiring for me. I grew up a lot while I was in college swimming and I think back to that all the time.  Things my former teammates said, even you, Kara, were things that really stuck with me. I get inspiration from the athletes that I currently coach. It’s hard for everyone and we’re all just doing our best, that effort that they all put in truly inspires me.  

5. KLJ: What do you want to want to say to the next generation of Young Women Dreamers?

HC: I would really want to say; believe in yourself. You can do great things - really great things. I’d also say; build each other up. I think we did a great job of that at University of Georgia, you can be competitors, teammates and best friends. If you work together, everyone is going to get better. I try to apply that to everything in my life.  

Rapid Fire:

KLJ: Name one woman you think embodies confidence?

HC: You! I think there was a time, maybe our freshman year before NCAA’s and you were not going into the meet seated first in the 50 free and you said to me “I can win this” and then you did. I learned from you that it’s okay to say you can win, or you can drop time, or you can do something amazing, even small things - when you say them outloud it’s incredibly powerful. I don’t know if that’s a cheater answer because I’m talking to you, but it’s true!

KLJ: Who was your role model at age 10?

HC: I always looked up to the older girls on the swim team. I was living in Bozeman, MT at the time and I can think back to the high school aged girls and a few of them swam in college. I think that had a huge effect on me - when they would come back and tell these stories about being on their teams and how much fun it was and 10 year old me thought; I want to do that! That was a really important thing for me to be exposed to at a young age and it made me start striving to compete in college.

KLJ:  What’s your favorite pump-up song before a race?

HC: Oh, Taylor Swift! I have to say Taylor Swift. Shake it Off is so good! You can’t listen to that and not get excited.

KLJ: What’s your favorite way to relax?

HC: Sleep. I learned that one from you too, Kara. I think sleep is really important and it’s something I didn’t do enough of when I was younger. Now I believe that that’s when you get stronger. If I’m awake, I’m typically reading - I love reading and I’ll read anything. It’s healthy to always be learning!

KLJ: What’s your Starbucks order?

HC: I’m so boring, just regular coffee with cream - unless it’s a Friday! On Fridays I will get a latte after Friday morning practice. Fancy Friday coffee, treat yourself!


Follow along with Haley's journey at

LEAD Summit Update, 5/16

Summit Updates & San Antonio Appearance

Last week, we announced Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin as our Special Guest Mentor, and we hope you are just as excited as we are! Over 40 girls from across the country have already signed up for the first ever LEAD SportsSummit - more than half of the 70 available spaces. With the all-star lineup of speakers and mentors, our attendees are in for a fun and impactful weekend! 

From June 23-25, LEAD Founder Kara Lynn Joyce will be attending the George Block Invitational in San Antonio, Texas to talk to parents and swimmers about the LEAD experience and other exciting LEAD events that we will be able to share with you soon. Stay tuned for more information!

Speaker Spotlight

Jennifer Brunelli is a former National Team and NCAA All-American swimmer from the University of South Carolina. She is currently the dietician for the NFL's Carolina Panthers and works with several other sports teams and athletes of all levels. Her passion has always been empowering young female swimmers to take control of their nutrition in order to fuel their bodies best for swimming and for life. 

Working with Jenn, attendees will learn how to fuel pre- and post-workout, individualized fluid intake to promote lower injury risk, and meal frequency and changing your body through diet and macronutrients. Jenn's combined background in swimming and nutrition makes her a perfect fit for our LEAD squad!

Leadership Corner

Empowering young girls and women is a movement we strive to take part in each and every day. In the Leadership Corner, we spotlight important stories on girls and women who inspire us.