Summer Sanders: From Gold Medals To Motherhood

At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Summer Sanders emerged as the most decorated U.S. swimmer, winning four medals – two gold, a silver medal, and a bronze. Since her retirement, Summer has shown no signs of slowing down with various television appearances, a prenatal workout DVD, and her upcoming role as Yahoo!Sports correspondent at the London Olympic Games.

The busy mom-of-two opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her children Skye, 5, and Spider, 4, her postpartum weight loss secrets, and her experiences from an Olympic champion to a full-time mom.

CBS: You’re a retired gold medal Olympian, congratulations on your accomplishments. Was it hard to retire your swim trunks?

SS: “No, it was not. I felt just lucky that the time came without any drama. For some people it’s really hard to leave your sport, but I left with still so much love for swimming. My passion for competing wasn’t the same, so it was just time to move on.”

CBS: Will you be in London this summer? Who are you rooting for? What Olympic summer sports are your favorite?

SS: “Yes, I will be in London and because I’ll be there as a journalist for Yahoo, it will be hard to root for anyone. But I obviously love swimming and I want the U.S. to do really well and win every relay. I also love the beach volleyball venue and environment; it’s always a party. And the Athletics finals are simply amazing. It’s amazing how you can get 100 thousand people to be silent for the start of a race. To experience that is surreal.”

CBS: Being retired before the age of 40, what are you biggest goals for the next half of your life?

SS: “It’s actually the 20th anniverary of the medal I won at 19 in Barcelona, so I’ve now been retired for as long as I was swimming.

My life is the chaos of motherhood and my work, and I feel extremely lucky that I get to do both of them. I feel each role makes me better at the other. I’m sure my kids will argue, but I have an amazing support system that allows me to do a bunch of things in my life.”

CBS: Tell us about your two kids, Skye and Spider. What are their ages? What are they into?

SS: “Skye is 5, and going on 22 this April. Spider just turned 4. Spider is the most curious kid, with 20 questions for everything. He’s into superheros, skiing, soccer, and doing crazy twirling acts on the trampoline. He’s also just discovered the joy of reading.

My daughter is in kindergarten, and apparently her favorite game is chase the boys. She loves gymnastics and running. She’s already completed a 5K and has dreams, as she tells me, of competing in a 20k. She’s a very sweet and caring older sister. She’s also learning Spanish.”

CBS: How did you come up with the name Spider? Have you taken a lot of criticism for naming your son Spider?

SS: “With a name like Summer, I think it was somewhat expected that my children would end up with unique names. Spider’s full name is actually Charles Robert Spider Schlopy. Charles after my paternal grandfather, Robert after my dad, and Spider from the legendary ski racer Spider Sabich. Truthfully we didn’t have the guts to give him Spider as his first name, but if any kid ever fit his first name, this one fits his. My dad, who was responsible for naming me Summer, actually calls him Charlie because he loves that he’s named after his father.”

CBS: What are some of your favorite mommy moments or memories?

SS: “Obviously, moment No. 1 was when I got to meet them the very first time. It’s shocking how quickly instinct sets in. Then there are all their firsts: first smiles, first giggles, the first time your husband gets poop in his eye while changing a diaper.

Right now, my favorite moments are when they first get off the school bus and run to me as if they haven’t seen me for a week. I live for that moment in my afternoons. And also, because I love sports, I really love stepping back and watching them test and push themselves and learning about the things they can do when they put their minds to something. I find a lot of joy in being a spectator.”

CBS: Do you feel your Olympic training prepared you well for motherhood?

SS: “Not really. The dedidcation and time commitment, even the passion, yes those things carry over into parenthood. But you have no control in parenthood. In the pool, I could control my circumstances, my training, my output to achieve the results I wanted. You can’t control this little human being who’s just as stubborn as you are.

There was a formula for success during my career: it was to goal + dedication and personal challenge + hard work = results. There’s no handbook or formula like that for parenting, but I love it.”

CBS: We hear you’ve done a prenatal DVD. Tell us all about it. Did you stay in good shape prenatal? Did you lose the weight quickly postnatal? If so, what are your top 5 best postnatal weight loss secrets?

SS: “I was surrounded by athletes and women who had trained their whole lives, yet didn’t feel prepared or educated for what they could do during pregnancy. I felt like people needed guidance once their bodies became more than just their own, and that a DVD could show these amazing women that you can still be your athletic self.

I did stay in relatively good shape during my pregnancies, but I made sure to gain the proper amount of weight when I was pregnant, and it did take some time to get off, especially those last 10 pounds.

My top 5 postnatal weight-loss secrets, really aren’t secret. They’re very common sense.

1. Eat right, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Be sure you’re snacking and eating small meals, but make sure you’re eating the right kinds of foods and not just everything you want.

2. Get moving. Push your kid in a stroller or strap them on your chest and walk, walk, walk. It’s best for your bodies recovery and it’ll be good bonding time with your baby.

3. Remember ‘you’ time, You’re not selfish if you take an hour for yourself. You’ll actually be a better wife and mother when you feel good. So work-in-the-cracks-of-your- day and make time for you.

4. Use nap time for yourself. This continues my work-in-the-cracks-of-your-day idea. Use those down times to prepares healthy snacks you can grab on the go, workout, or just to relax and de-stress. Stress will make you want to eat more and make getting that baby weight off even more challenging.

5. Keep it realistic. This is key! Don’t expect the weight or the energy to be instant. It took 9 months to put it on, and it’ll take almost that long to get if off and get you back to feeling like you. And that’s OK! The models, athletes and actresses that are back red carpet ready in two months have more help than most of us are able, so just work on it and stay focused on a healthy, active you and you’ll get there and help your family in the process.”

CBS: What’s up next for you?

SS: “Well, being that it’s an Olympic year, there’s lots in the pipe for me and I’m so excited. As I mentioned, I’ll be in London with Yahoo!Sports reporting. I will be kind of their ‘face of the Games’ I’ll cover swimming and then have the opportunity to do a little roaming reporting and tell some of the amazing lifestyle stories of these world class athletes and their families. I’m also talking my family to London, and cannot wait to share the Olympic experience with them.

I recently competed on Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, and while I didn’t win, I learned a a lot about food preparation and had a great time competing for Right To Play.

I’m on the 2012 ESPNW Women’s Advisory Board and am one of three athletes selected to be on the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

I am also working with a few Olympic sponsors. Right now, as a member of Team Kellogg’s, I’m the mentor, friend and ‘mom’ figure in a great group of athletes, featuring the likes of Kerri Walsh and Jordyn Wieber, who are all sharing their experiences and fueling up to compete in London. I’m actually going to be on the Corn Flakes box as part of partnership, which roles out this month celebrating my Olympic achievement 20 years ago and looking at my life now. It’s going to be such a cool experience to share with my kids!

There’s lots of other stuff as well, which will be continually add to my website and Facebook page, so people can find updated info and see all my plans for Olympic coverage this summer.”

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  1. Spider!? Really!? Why name your child something that instantly evokes fear and revolt in most people? Oh well, free country I guess. She can call her kid what she wants.

  2. The first paragraph of the article is very misleading, probably to get more hits. His real first name is Charles.

    • It’s not misleading if that’s what they actually call him. People go by nicknames or middle names all the time.

        • This blog isn’t a legal document. Have you ever seen a post about Matthew Damon or Benjamin Affleck or Laura Jean Reese Witherspoon? No, they’re called Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and Reese Witherspoon, because those are the names they go by.

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