Elaine Breeden Takes First Swim With Daughter 10 Years After Olympics

Photo Courtesy: Elaine Breeden

By Dan D’Addona.

Ten years ago, Elaine Breeden was at the top of the swimming world, competing in her first Olympic Games.

When she dove into the water in Beijing, her life would never be the same.

Ten years later, Breeden was in the water once more, and again, her life would never be the same.

This time it was because she was in the water with her 8-week-old baby Julia, the first time her daughter entered a pool, a place that had so much meaning and history for her mother.


Photo Courtesy: Elaine Breeden

It was almost 10 years to the day of Breeden earning a silver medal in Beijing.

“I think I was kind of aware of that. It wasn’t planned. I had seen my Olympic teammates posting anniversary posts for 10 years, so we were all tagged to a lot of things,” Breeden said. “There are a lot of parallels. Being back there with my baby was surreal. She is going to enjoy those days in another six to eight years. Although I don’t know if I will enjoy being a swim mom as much as I was a swimmer.”

Making it even more special was the fact that the historic mother-daughter swim happened in the same pool that Breeden grew up in.

“She loves it. She is obsessed with the water. Baths are her favorite things. I think she was 8 weeks when we took her to the pool. She splashed around for a good 20 minutes and absolutely loving it. We got her out when she started shivering,” she said. “We went back to my childhood pool in Kentucky. It is my summer league neighborhood pool. There is a plaque that they put up that says childhood pool of Elaine Breeden. So we got Julia’s picture with that.”

It brought back a plethora of memories and had Breeden thinking about Julia’s future.

“It was kind of weird being back there and remembering the summer league meets and having my heat and lane written on my hand with a sharpie. I used to be a total pool rat. We would bike to morning practice then pretty much stay and play at the pool until it closed. That is how we spent our summers,” she said. “It is just kind of mind-blowing how fast things go by.”

It is hard to believe it has been a decade since Beijing, something that Breeden, who also held the longest-standing NCAA record recently broken, thinks of often.

“I still remember everything,” she said. “I loved my teammates. I knew most of them, but really getting to know them as teammates really changes your relationship. I remember how much fun we had at training camp in Singapore. I remember the huge highlights, Jason Lezak’s incredible comeback in the 400 freestyle relay. That will always be seared into my brain as one of the coolest Olympic moments and I was right there watching.”

Woven into those moments were Breeden’s swims.

“Those went by like a blur. I had the 100 fly the first day and I remember not being able to sleep the night before because the Opening Ceremony was right by my window it seemed, so the fireworks were pretty loud,” she said. “I remember just being so excited. I had never represented the U.S. at that level. I was disappointed because I didn’t make the finals, but you can’t be too disappointed with 10th in the world. 
I ended up getting seventh in the 200 fly. I was happy to get into that final.”

But it was the medley relay that ended up being the most life-changing for Breeden, even swimming in the preliminaries.

“I swam the prelim leg,” she said. “That was really cool. Being asked to be a member of that relay — I didn’t realize how life-changing that would be. You never really know who will be on those relays. The first thing people ask is if I got a medal. We got the silver medal in finals. Being an Olympian is life-changing enough, but being a medalist is crazy.”

Now the life-changing swims are much more simple, full of smiles between mother and daughter.

“It was pretty relaxing. She was handling it so well. She just loved it. Part of me was relieved because I envision us having a lot of fun at the pool in the summers,” she said.

And it will be a bond they will be able to share for a lifetime.


Photo Courtesy: Elaine Breeden