In honor of Procter & Gamble's new 'Thank You, Mom' ad, gold medalist swimmer Dana Vollmer shares what it's like to train for the Olympics as the mom of a toddler.

By Julia Edelstein
April 27, 2016

Get out your tissues! Remember those emotional "Thank you, Mom" ads that ran in the last few Olympics? Procter & Gamble released a new one this morning, and it has us feeling all the feelings (and also super excited about Rio this summer). The short film showcases exactly how the composure a mother musters in tough times can teach her own child to stay strong under pressure.

I glimpsed the ad for the first time at a special press preview, where I also got a chance to interview one of Parents' #momcrushes, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Dana Vollmer, 28, mother to 13-month-old baby boy, Arlen. Naturally, Dana was there with her own mom, who is now a glowing grandma. "When my mom comes over she's not asking me about training or anything like that," Dana said. "It's all about Arlen."

Dana credits her mom for teaching her to be a strong parent. "No matter what was thrown at us as kids, she always told us that everything was going to end up okay and I really took that to heart," Dana said. "Those first screaming nights with the poopy diapers and everything spiraling at once... you just have to have confidence that everything is going to be okay. I think I definitely got it from her."

Dana also divulged how she balances full-time parenting with Olympic training. Fair warning: If you're not a morning person, her trick may not be for you. "I set a 4:30 alarm clock," Dana said, "so that's when I do my training. I go to the pool, I swim from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., and then I normally have strength training for two hours after that." Arlen has breakfast with his dad and goes down for a morning nap around 10:30 a.m. By the time he wakes up, Dana is home for the day. "I made a promise that I would never feel like I was putting swimming above time with my son," Dana said. And so far, she's keeping it—having only left Arlen once, for a four-day competition.

"I tend to bring him everywhere," said Dana, who admits that having a supportive mom makes it easier. "[My mom] came to Australia with me in March for our training trip and she got to watch Arlen the whole time. She comes up for weekends and helps me take care of him, too."

One thing's for sure: We'll be looking for baby Arlen at the Olympics come August!

Julia Edelstein is the senior health editor at Parents magazine.


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