Fit Families on Fathers Day!

Father’s Day is right around the corner so let me begin by saying Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.
I myself am lucky to be a Dad three times over to healthy and smart kids, now ages 14, 12 and 8. They are among the fittest people I know: my son plays ice and roller hockey, runs cross country, and swims during summer, and my younger two girls swim competitively year-round with Shorewood Swim Club. My youngest daughter also plays ice and roller hockey.  In this age of rising obesity levels among children, I’m thrilled that my kids have found a love of the water – both frozen and not – that will hopefully last their whole lives.
What have I learned as a father in the past 14 years- and is there a correlation between parenthood and my fitness routine? Without question. For me it’s about learning, trying to lead by example and striving to be my best every day.     
I swim with the Whitefish Bay Masters team five days a week from 5 a.m.-6:30 a.m. Many of my 25 teammates are also parents. A few rarely miss practice and they’re always supportive of my efforts. I figure if they can find time to get to the pool and train for meets and races in light of raising their young families- including newborns- I should have no excuse to make it. They also regularly ask if they’ll see me the next day at practice. We count on each other and it’s a great reminder that we’re a team. 
As for the 5 a.m. start time, do I consider myself an early morning person? Not really, but It seems like the only way to squeeze in a practice is when the rest of my family is asleep. After my workout- which averages 4,000 yards- I find I’m more productive the rest of the day knowing that I’ve swam a full workout by 6:30 a.m. When I get home, I stir the kids, help make breakfast, pack the lunches, feed the dogs and am out the door at 7:30 to drop off the kids at school.
Like many families, we rarely eat dinner together during the week. My wife is the chef in the house and she does a great job of aiming for healthy meals in between runs to the pool and rink. Like many of you, this is the new normal for family life. If I tried to get in a workout during the evening, I would simply miss too much of these fun years that are going by at warp speed already.
So that’s what my normal day is like… but I have to say one of my favorite parts is around 8 p.m. at the kitchen table. I’m drinking chocolate milk with my 12-year-old daughter who has just gotten home from her 30-minute dry land and 90-minute swim practice. She is eating everything in sight and we are reviewing our workouts from the day, talking about our sets and rep times, what our coaches made us do, and what’s new with our teammates. It’s a language only a swimmer understands, I’m told.
So tonight I will raise my glass of chocolate milk to all you Dads out there who are setting the example of a balanced, athletic life. We are raising the next generation with healthy minds and bodies. We’re teaching them how to be good teammates and how to be a well-rounded person.
And, we’re teaching them to take care of themselves for a lifetime. As the years go by, it’s how we can stay relevant and be a part of their lives, even though they’ll be blowing by us in the pool in the future. Who’s to say we can’t try to keep up, though?

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