We sat down with Australian multi-gold medallist and Mum Libby Trickett and spoke about her journey as a swimmer, her transition to motherhood, and her advice for other mums who are trying to balance their various responsibilities and passions.
What inspired you to pursue swimming as a competitive sport, and at what age did you start training seriously?
I did all sports growing up, absolutely anything that I could try, I would have a go at. Growing up in Townsville and being the youngest of four kids, I got taken to my brother and sister’s sessions as well. So, I learnt to swim at a young age and joined my first swim club when I was four and as soon as I had my first club night race, I absolutely fell in love with swimming. To be fair, I fell in love with competing but there was something particularly special about being in the water for me.
So I’ve pretty much swum my whole life and was always relatively competitive at it, but it wasn’t until I was 14 and missed the finals at the Queensland State Titles that year that I realised I actually needed to start training hard. I had always loved competing, but I was fairly well known as a bludger in my squad to that point. That result that year at States made me realise that I wanted to get more out of my sport and to start training harder.
How do you balance your role as a mom with your other responsibilities as an Olympic athlete?
Thankfully, these roles never overlapped! This would be incredibly challenging but it’s wonderful to see other women begin to take on this challenge more and more!
How do you involve your kids in your own passions and interests, such as swimming or other athletic pursuits?
I’m a big believer in modelling behaviour. It’s one thing to tell your kid to do something but you also need to show them. We are an active family, mostly because Luke and I love being outdoors and using our bodies in different ways, and the girls have very much responded to that environment.
We really try to (as much as is possible – and it’s not always!) have them involved in what we are doing and our lives because I also really believe that you can’t be what you can’t see, so I want to show our kids that there is so much opportunity out there and that life can be so challenging and wonderful and exciting!
How have you maintained your own identity and sense of self while also taking on the role of a parent?
I think it’s important to maintain some of the things you really loved from before having kids to give you that sense of self. Parenthood is hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Hands down.
The amount you have to give every single day to these little people, never knowing for sure that your effort and energy is going to give you the outcome you hope for, it’s tough. It’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. Hands down.
So, for me it’s great to have moments to reconnect with myself so I’m not as overwhelmed or strained with the effort that I’m giving to my family every day. That’s a priority for me, otherwise I become a turd to everyone.
What advice would you give to other moms who are trying to balance their various responsibilities and passions?
You’re allowed to. Give yourself permission.
That’s pretty much it. Once you do that, you can talk to those around you to get the support you need to have that time.
If you try to do it all and be everything to everyone, you’ll only burn yourself out and that’s no good for anyone.
Give yourself permission and ask for what you need.