by Jude Jacob November 02, 2020
About me:I was born in Hoffman Estates, Illinois but was raised in Walnut Creek, California. I live in Long Beach, California. I’m strong, confident and driven. I competed and won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
My fitness journey
My parents always felt sports were very important, so they got a pool for me and my sister when we were kids. My older sister and I loved swimming and soon started on a local swim team. We played soccer and basketball along the way. We started water polo together and just fell in love. The truth is swimming can get boring sometimes! Water polo is a fast-paced physical, competitive game.
Everyone's journey is so unique. My main tip is to keep moving. This doesn't have to mean high intensity or a super committed program, just something to keep mind and body connected.
2012 was my first Olympic experience, I was a rookie. The older girls in the team were veterans and were fantastic leaders – we had a blast. It was amazing to have my family and friends there. Four years later, in 2016, was a different experience. We had a very young team so we weren’t as strong. It was a different type of leadership and physically speaking, we prepared tirelessly. We united over events before the game and came together as a tight circle. Ultimately, it was equally fun but a different feeling – a feeling of deep satisfaction.
My teammates and I go to a sports psychologist. I’ve been seeing the same one, since I joined the team in 2010. We rely on him for guidance on how to prepare. I don’t do much on my own, but we have team practices on mindfulness. We spend a lot of time bringing intention and purpose into everything we do. One of the biggest things is learning how to manage distraction and focus on what is important both in the larger scheme of things, but also during specific moments in a game.
Coping with COVID-19
We went into lockdown in March, which was when our Olympic year was starting up. We went home and sat nervously waiting for the news. Now, it’s really a work in progress figuring out how things will look moving forward.
We still can't have contact with each other and I haven’t played water polo since March. This week we have our first day back and everyone is wondering if we will remember how to do this! It’s all very emotional. I'm one of the oldest in the team. The last few months have really highlighted for me what the team has done for each of us and we are all itching to get back to our community.
The last few months have been challenging, but it’s important to stay optimistic about the future. My advice is to reign it back and stay focused on the here and now. I went through a period where I was home with my parents. I used my IG to stay accountable and post one thing each day I was grateful for. I focused on the simple things in life – a good meal, a walk with my parents.
I’m a mentor for RISE Athletes. RISE is a program founded by two Olympic swimmers – their goal was to give tools to young athletes to be successful. Focusing on mindset and staying positive are some of the key skills we work with. We connect with young athletes who want to be successful in high school or college, not necessarily in the Olympics, and we bring them the skills used by elite athletes through one-on-one mentorship.
My skin changes with the seasons. I generally have pretty oily skin, but being in a pool and the sun so much sucks out all the moisture, so my skin ends up being simultaneously super dry and super oily.
I change my skincare between seasons. If I over-moisturize my skin gets slimy, but I always make sure to wear a ton of sunscreen in the sun. We are in the pool by 7am so I don’t have time to do much to my skin before practice. After the pool, I exfoliate to get all the sunscreen off and then moisturize as much as possible. The older I get, the more concerned I am about my skin.
For me, cleansing is the number one most important thing. Skincare has been a journey – right now I'm only using FRÉ skincare. I use PROTECT ME as my daily sunscreen, PURIFY ME to cleanse and, on non-pool days, I wear GLOW ME for coverage. RECOVER ME is an amazing night cream after a full day and it leaves my skin perfectly hydrated. I recently started using I AM LOVE, which smells amazing.
○ Favorite exercise? Walking my dog
○ What does sweat mean to you? Sweat to me is a symbol of movement
○ What comes to mind first when you think of FRÉ? Wellness
○ What are you most excited about in life right now? The holidays – Thanksgiving and decorating!
○ What’s something you’d still love to learn? Spanish – at least conversational Spanish
○ What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received in your life? My dad taught me to keep doing the right thing and that others will follow.
○ What is an issue that you wish we spoke about more often? I have a teaching credential and I'm looking forward to a career in education after my athletic career finishes. There are serious problems in our school system. When people are young and learning it’s a critical time, and it’s not spoken about enough.
○ What does women’s empowerment mean in 2020? For me being on a team of female athletes and watching them navigate 2020 and everything else that’s going on is all about supporting each other, building each other up to succeed.
○ What are your dreams for the FRÉ community? One of the reasons I jumped aboard with FRÉ was the social mission of planting trees and giving back. I would love to see that grow and I would love to be more involved.
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