Human Interest

Former Olympian swimmer competing again after becoming a mom: ‘I wanted to prove myself’

motherhood, Olympics, swimming, Petra Weber

A former Olympic swimmer from Czechia (Czech Republic) spoke candidly during a recent interview about how motherhood has shaped her swimming career for the better.

Petra Weber says that though she is mother of a four-year-old, that hasn’t slowed her down, and she is looking forward to the European Aquatics Masters Championships in Belgrade this summer.

“I started competing a lot more in the Masters category after I had my daughter and found that it was a much better environment in terms of atmosphere and mental wellbeing,” she told European Aquatics.

Weber spoke about how giving birth to her daughter prematurely completely changed her outlook on swimming.

“I wanted to come back after giving birth to my daughter, but my (national team) contract was terminated due to the age factor,” she said. “I tried to swim and coach fitness until I gave birth, which was almost two months early, but my premature baby completely changed my life and I turned my brain off from swimming.”

READ: After 25 years away from gymnastics, this mom made a comeback to win gold

She then turned some of her focus to working with an organization that helps premature babies. “Since having a prematurely born daughter I learned how non-profit organization Nedoklubko helps families of premature babies and I approached them to say I would love to work with them. I have been active for Nedoklubko as a coordinator for the ÚPMD (hospital) in Prague, where I gave birth and where they took a great care of my daughter Lilli.”

Weber also discussed the difficulties and stigma she faced after giving birth, especially as she tried to come back after Lilli’s condition improved.

“I never wanted to stop my professional swimming career when I found out I was pregnant,” she said. “Even though no-one helped me in my comeback, except my fitness trainer Pavel Provázek, I was determined to come back. I wanted to prove to myself and the people around me that I could do that and compete again with girls who are 20 years younger.”

Like so many other professional athletes, Weber shows that motherhood and athletics are not mutually exclusive; some of the greatest athletes are also mothers.

Now, Weber is looking forward to her young daughter cheering her on in the upcoming Masters Championship. “I am very happy that my daughter Lilli will be there with me as it’s great to be able to introduce her to a multicultural environment and to experience such atmosphere in early childhood,” she said. “I’m sure she will want to enjoy the medal ceremonies with me too, in case I am successful!”

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