Summer Sanders Talks Swimming and Parenthood with First Lady Michelle Obama


Summer Sanders is no stranger to celebrity. A champion swimmer with four Olympic medals who has forged a successful career as a TV host and sports commentator, Sanders is used to being in rare company. Still, spending the day with first lady Michelle Obama and sitting with her to cheer for the USA Swim Team on the first day of the 2012 London Olympics was definitely a highlight.

"To walk in with the first lady of the United States was pretty awesome," she told Yahoo!. "It was surreal in a way, because it was such a huge moment for me...I was almost pinching myself that I was walking in with the first lady."

Related: More Olympic coverage at Yahoo! Sports

After spending the day together on July 28, "We went and sat down in our seats, and then it became like a fun session for me, sort of teaching her about swimming," says Sanders, who is also the Olympic swimming analyst for Yahoo! Sports. She introduced the first lady to some of the "Who's Who" of the Olympic swimming world, and then filled her in on swimming strategy from an insider's point of view.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Summer Sanders cheer on the USA Olympic Swim team … Sanders, who is married to U.S. ski team Alpine racer Erik Schlopy and is the mother of two young kids, says that she was surprised to find herself having a candid conversation with the first lady about parenthood -- a topic that doesn't usually come up poolside.

"It was very cool to be a part [of] and to have a real conversation with someone in that kind of power, and to understand that you know what, she's a mom just like me, and she's trying to balance it all and do the best job she absolutely can," she says. "Halfway through the competition that's what we started talking about -- she was asking me about balance as a mom, how I do it with juggling everything."

Sanders retired from professional swimming in 1994 after winning eight U.S. National Championships and bringing home two gold medals, a silver, and a bronze in the 1992 summer Olympic games in Barcelona. Given her experience, she knows exactly how it feels as an athlete to see a familiar, famous face in the stands when you're so far away from home.

"We're not on home soil. They speak English here but we aren't home," she says. "The athletes here are just swimming their hearts out. So when they look up in the stands and see the first lady of the United States cheering them, waving the American flag, it makes them feel like America cares."

Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.

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