Laura Molinari: Supermom Volunteer

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Photo Courtesy: Laura Molinari (pictured in center)

By Lillian Nelson, Swimming World College Intern

Swimming is a unique sport. A lot more goes in to making it run smoothly than the coaches, the swimmers, and the pool. There are oodles and oodles of odd jobs to be done, and those who sacrifice their time to do them often fly under the radar without proper recognition.

Being a “lifer” in swimming, as we are often called, I never once forget how lucky we are to have dozens and dozens of volunteers behind the scenes (and behind the blocks) that make it so easy for us to do that we do best.

A perfect example of someone who dedicates every second of their free time to make our sport go swimmingly is mother of five swimmers, Laura Molinari, a supermom volunteer.

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Photo Courtesy: Laura Molinari

Molinari recalls, “My first job was that of a ‘parent shepherd.’ I had to manage a large group of 8 and under swimmers at swim meets, and make sure they made it to their correct heat, lane, and race on time.”

Swim meets, summer league especially, can be about as chaotic as a shopping mall at Christmas time. The difference is 80 percent of the people there are kids that are hyped up to swim their races. With people like Laura around, that chaos turns into a much more uniform system.

As her kids have grown older, she explains how her volunteer positions have changed over time:

“Throughout the years of our family’s involvement in club swimming, I have had the opportunity to help in a multitude of ways. I have had the privilege to time at numerous meets (best seat in the house), carpool with other swimmers, chaperone for travel meets, help at meets hosted by our team, and serve on our team’s executive board as secretary.”

With so much to manage and with all the little things that need to get done in order to successfully run a swim meet, any and all volunteers are welcome and highly valued. If something unexpectedly goes wrong, volunteers go into all hands on deck mode. Volunteers are used to expecting the unexpected.

Broken touch pad? Not to worry, our volunteers are here as back up timers, and there’s another one on the way to fix it so we can get back to business.

Getting to be up close and personal with the swimmers and being right in the middle of all the action, Molinari recognizes how much excitement there is to be a part of:

“I have become a superfan of swimming, sparked by my family’s love for the sport. I absolutely love the vibe and energy of a swim meet. It’s a kind of ‘Endless Summer’ experience. My happy place. It is a joy to watch the swimmers I know improve, reach their goals, and exceed their own expectations. Our youngest child will be heading to college in the fall to swim for Bob Bowman at ASU.”

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Photo Courtesy: Laura Molinari

Volunteers wouldn’t give up so much of their time and effort if they did not appreciate the thrill of the sport itself. Swimming has a way of drawing people in, and staying with them for life.

Molinari states that her favorite part of the sport is “witnessing the incredible: Michael Phelps‘ comeback, Caeleb Dressel‘s 18-low 50 free, Katie Ledecky‘s limitless achievements, Michael Andrew breaking NAG records every time he races, Ryan Lochte‘s underwaters off of every wall, etc.”

But that really brings out the goosebumps and the misty eyes are the personal connections our volunteers have:

“I could go on and on, but the highlight to date has to be watching our youngest son, Joe Molinari, at last summer’s Junior Nationals in Texas, when he got his first Olympic Trials cut in the 200 fly, winning the C heat in finals!”

Our volunteers often prove to be our biggest fans. Molinari went on to say, “I love that the sport teaches that hard work, dedication, and that self discipline pays off. There seems to be no limit to what swimmers can achieve!”

But we would not be able to achieve the incredible without smoothly running meets. With all the chaos behind the scenes (and how it is calmly kept behind the scenes) volunteers foster the perfect environment to inspire excellence.

So if you see an official, a hospitality worker, a timer, a tech support mastermind, a basket carrier, or anyone else that gives up their time and effort for the good of swimming, thank them. Because without them, who knows where we would be?

USA Swimming has launched a campaign to recognize our terrific volunteers all month long! Honor all of the volunteers in your life this March by snapping their photo and posting with #1VolunTeam on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Tag @usaswimming and @swimmingworldmag too!

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6 years ago

Could not have picked a more deserving Person then Laura to write this article about! Always positive! Nice work.