Showing Up Counts

Showing Up Counts

By Courtney Randolph, LEAD Marketing Coordinator

Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.
— Des Linden, 2018 Boston Marathon Winner

Keep showing up. It sounds like simple advice. But sometimes, showing up is only half the battle.

At the 2017 LEAD Sports Summit, Confidence Coach Christen Shefchunas talked about the importance of giving ourselves credit. Some days, we show up to practice and see results. As the season progresses, we feel stronger, more confident, and increasingly ready to race. But then there are days (or seasons) where that just doesn’t happen. On those days, we need two reminders more than ever: 1. Keep showing up, and 2. Give yourself credit.


I’m actually learning this lesson as a Masters swimmer of two years, well past the high-pressure days of club and college swimming. More than any other time in my life, showing up to Masters practice has been all on me - every week, I have to choose to drive an hour to the pool on days I go to work and get up early on Saturday to make it to the workout. There’s no pressure from a coach, or anyone else really, to be there.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a competitive person, so it was only a matter of time before I learned to love racing again as a Masters swimmer (about 3 months in, to be specific). It was fun to see what I could do swimming only 2-3 times each week, and I gave myself a blank slate of “new best times” to challenge myself in this new chapter of swimming. This past season, though, was different.

Recently, I showed up to our LMSC’s Zone Meet having already defeated myself. I almost didn’t even sign up for the meet, and when I arrived at the pool, all I could think were negative thoughts, reasons I had been telling myself all season that would prevent me from swimming well:

I’d had health issues for three months.

I’d gained (and then lost) ten pounds since the start of the season.

I hadn’t lifted weights since December.

I hadn’t been training fast.

I hadn’t done enough aerobic work early in the season.

I hadn’t done enough speed work late in the season.

I stood behind the blocks for the 500 free and 200 IM with zero positive expectations - and then proceeded to swim times that were only 1 second per hundred off the times I swam last year when I felt far more physically, mentally, and emotionally in shape. I showed up the next day and swam within 4 seconds of my best Masters time in my favorite event, the 400 IM (yes, I know I’m crazy). None of my races were best times, but I was thrilled - and shocked - that I could be that close after such a rocky season of training.

That got me thinking… if all I could think about was what I hadn’t done, maybe I’d missed an opportunity to do what Coach Christen had told the athletes at LEAD: Give myself some CREDIT for what I had done:


I had shown up to practice, even when I didn’t feel great.

I had gone running at least once a week.

I had made an effort to do ab work and short strength circuits at home.

And I also had two years of consistently showing up to back up my swims.

This will look different depending on where you are in your career. For me, “showing up” now means swimming 2-3 times per week and running and lifting on my own, which is considerably less than the 8-10 times per week I trained in high school and college. But no matter where you are in your swimming career - club, high school, college, or masters - we all have good days in training and tough ones. On the good days, we can give 100% and then some. We can push ourselves and our teammates past what we thought possible. It’s on the days (and seasons) when we feel challenged that it’s critical to give ourselves credit for what we are doing… even if that’s just showing up and diving in, knowing that showing up now will pay off later.

Swimming with Your Sister

Swimming with Your Sister

By: Sage and Terra, LEAD Interns

For those who don’t know us, our names are Terra and Sage. We attended the 2017 LEAD Sports Summit and are now LEAD interns! We have been swimming together since we were little, and there isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t together. We’ve always been close, but nothing has brought us closer than swimming.

Over the past four years, our daily ritual has started at 4 am, wiping the sleep out of our eyes and grumbling to each other on the way to the pool. Swimming with your sibling can be as uplifting or tiresome as you let it be - it’s all up to you. With Terra headed off to NYU in the fall, we wanted to share a few of our experiences swimming togethers as sisters.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Often, we perceive a leader as only being the fastest member of the team or the oldest. But that’s not true! No matter your age or your ability in and out of the water, you should never limit your potential to be a leader! Even if you weren’t voted as a team captain or you are a younger member of your team, you can contribute in so many different ways.

Positive Leaders are Assertive

Positive Leaders are Assertive

It is day one of the long-course season.  You swam well last season, but your best friend swam better.  In fact, she beat you in your best and favorite event for the first time ever.  Although you are happy that she swam well, you’re upset that she swam faster than you.  To top it off, she doesn’t seem to be taking practice seriously and keeps goofing off and distracting you.   Your goal this season is to be more focused and dedicated, but your friend is making it difficult. What is your typical response to a situation like this?  Do you:

A. Ignore her.  When she asks if anything is wrong, you say no.  You grumble to yourself and roll your eyes when she is not looking.  You play little tricks on her to make her feel as irritated as you do.

B. Yell at her.  Tell her that her goofing off is affecting your training, that you’re a better swimmer, and that her win was just a fluke.

C. Have a calm sit-down meeting with her. Explain to her that you want to focus on your training a bit more this season and that her silliness during practice is distracting.  That you both want and need different things out of your training and that’s OK. You tell her that you value your friendship and that you are happy to goof off with her after practice. You then listen to her perspective and thoughts.

D. Do nothing.  Although your friend never seems to consider your feelings, your friendship is important and not something you want to ruin.  You would rather avoid the conflict.

LEAD Announces 2018 Summit Speakers

LEAD Announces 2018 Summit Speakers

The LEAD Sports Summit has officially announced its full lineup of powerhouse female speakers for its second annual event for teenage girl swimmers, which will take place in Atlanta, GA over Labor Day Weekend (August 31-September 3, 2018). Three-time Olympian and LEAD Founder Kara Lynn Joyce created LEAD (Leadership, Empowerment, and Athletic Development) as an opportunity for girls to learn leadership skills from strong, accomplished female mentors.


The core group of speakers at the 2018 Summit will feature 5 female Olympians and 4 female specialists in different fields that contribute to leadership and empowerment. The star-studded lineup joining Kara includes:

  • Elizabeth Beisel, 2-time Olympic medalist and 3-time Olympian
  • Missy Franklin, 5-time Olympic gold medalist and 2-time Olympian
  • Katie Meili, 2-time Olympic medalist
  • Lia Neal, 2-time Olympic medalist and 2-time Olympian
  • Toni Armstrong, Leadership Expert and Master of Experiential Education
  • Jenn Brunelli, Registered Dietitian and Sports Dietitian for the Carolina Panthers
  • Dr. Megan Cannon, Sports Psychologist and Member of the American Psychological Association
  • Christen Shefchunas, Confidence Coach and author of Naked Confidence

“I’m thrilled to bring LEAD to Atlanta for our second Summit,” said Kara. "We are so fortunate to be working with some of the best women in swimming to help mentor and guide the next generation of female leaders in our sport. By expanding our lineup of speakers, we’ll be able to provide the girls even more knowledge and practices for empowering themselves and others, both in and out of the pool.”
2016 Olympic captain Elizabeth Beisel said, “Speaking at LEAD was something equally empowering as it was reflective. I put myself in the girls’ shoes and spoke about leadership in the most honest and relatable terms possible. After speaking at the Summit, it made me look back on my teenage years and wish that I would have had something like LEAD when I was growing up. This makes speaking about leadership even more rewarding because I know I am giving the girls knowledge to inspire not only themselves, but other people around them.


Throughout the weekend, the LEAD Mentors and Speakers will work with participants during group talks, team-building activities, workshops, and small-group, age-specific breakout sessions. Elizabeth Beisel will kick off the weekend as the opening keynote speaker, and will be followed over the coming days by talks on Leadership with Kara Lynn Joyce, Lia Neal, and Toni Armstrong, Sports Psychology with Dr. Megan Cannon, Nutrition with Jenn Brunelli, and Confidence with Christen Shefchunas and Katie Meili. Following her inspirational talk at the 2017 Summit, Missy Franklin will give the closing keynote. The LEAD Team is also excited to announce additional members of the squad joining as Team Leaders in the coming weeks.

The LEAD Summit is the first 4-day all-inclusive leadership and empowerment summit for teenage female swimmers. Registration includes:

  • Full access to 9 top female mentors in swimming and leadership fields
  • 3 nights at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center
  • All meals, including a dinner banquet with all LEAD Mentors and Speakers
  • A trip to the LEAD Gift Suite, courtesy of LEAD’s partners and sponsors (to be announced soon!)
  • Team building activities
  • Swim clinic with the LEAD Olympic Mentors

Registration for LEAD is open to all female swimmers, ages 13-18. Athletes can register for the event and sign up for the LEAD newsletter through the website:

Please contact Kara Lynn Joyce with any questions at: and follow LEAD on Twitter: @LEADSportSummit & Instagram: @LEADSportsSummit for updates and announcements.

10 Female Swimmers You Should Know

10 Female Swimmers You Should Know

Positive Leadership Requires Knowing Your History

By: Toni Armstrong, Leadership Educator with Baltimore Leadership Guides and LEAD Sports Summit


On June 15, 1904, nearly 1,000 women and girls drowned in the East River new New York City when a boat caught fire.  The difference between life and death was the ability to swim no more than 50 yards.  This happened during a time when women were not allowed to enter “bathing pools” because of the threat of indecent exposure.  A woman’s place was in the home, and there were questions as to the purpose and ability of a woman to participate in any physical exertion beyond childbirth.  This incident was a turning point for women’s swimming in America. It became the main argument for why American females needed to learn how to swim, should be allowed to enter the “bathing pools,” and should be allowed to wear “bathing costumes” that didn’t weigh them down in the water.

The female swimmers and coaches you hear the most about are in the modern history of our sport--Simone Manuel, Terri McKeever, Natalie Coughlin, and Katie Ledecky to name a few. Let’s dive deeper into the history and highlight some trail blazers that came before them. Leadership and history go hand-in-hand. If you do not know what the world was like before you, you will never fully appreciate where women are today or have the imagination to go further.  

Special Edition 5:10 Women Who Lead: Monica Abbott

Special Edition 5:10 Women Who Lead: Monica Abbott

In this special edition of 5 in 10 with Women Who Lead, LEAD intern Mary Motch interviews professional softball player Monica Abbott about what inspires her, how she achieves confidence, and how she overcomes challenges in her career. We even threw in a few bonus questions, since five just wasn't enough! 

Monica Abbott is one of the greatest softball pitchers of all time. She has played for the University of Tennessee, the US National Team, and the US Olympic Team where, in 2008, she won a silver medal. She has also played professionally with the Scrapyard Dawgs, becoming the first woman to ever sign a $1 million dollar contract in 2016. Monica leads the NCAA in all-time career wins, strikeouts, shutouts, innings pitched, games started, and games pitched and holds the record for the most strikeouts in a single season. In 2007, she was named the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year and an ESPY finalist for Best Collegiate Athlete.

Monica is a huge advocate for women in sports and travels all over the world to help empower the next generation of women leaders.  Check out her Instagram @monicaabbott to see some of the amazing young women that she has been working with. Monica is truly an inspiration as she continues to pave the way for women everywhere. We thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to sit down with the Lead team!

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!