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Olympic Medalist Kara Lynn Joyce Shares Her Drive to Entrepreneurship

 Olympic Medalist Kara Lynn Joyce
Olympic Medalist Kara Lynn Joyce

She’s a #girlboss, #bossbabe and badass.

Swimming in three Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012), earning four silver Olympic medals, and winning 18 NCAA titles, Kara Lynn Joyce, is no stranger to achieving gr8ness. While she loves being in the water, swimming isn’t what defines her legacy. Her passion and dedication to help young girls build confidence and become strong women through LEAD Sport Summit (Leadership, Empowerment & Athletic Development) is what drives her to success—and what she’ll be remembered for.

From Olympics to business owner, entrepreneurship is no easy task. Learn the challenges Kara faced in and out of the water, and how she continues to achieve gr8ness.

When did you start swimming, and what pushed you to continue swimming?

Kara Lynn Joyce: I first started swimming when I was 5 years old because both of my older brothers joined the swim team. When I was 7 years old I watched the Olympics for the first time and saw Summer Sanders in a gold medal in the 200 fly. I knew from that point on that I wanted to be an Olympian!

What enabled you to take your swimming career to the Olympics?

KLJ: I was very fortunate to have an incredible support system of family, friends and coaches. As I got older and continued to improve, my support system never wavered. I also loved pushing myself everyday and swimming gave me a daily outlet for my competitive drive.

What fueled you both mentally and physically?

KLJ: I think my desire to push my body to see what it was truly capable of was more important to me than ever making an Olympic Team. I was always hungry to achieve more and go further in my career because I wanted to know what my limits were. As a training athlete, it was very important to me to know where my food was coming from so I could best fuel my body for what it needed. I love healthy snack options and drinking lots of water, which are two important daily habits. I'm a true believer that if you put good things into your body, you will get better results out of it.

After your swimming career, how did you decide to launch the Lead Summit?

KLJ: I got into coaching after I retired from swimming in 2012, and something that I loved about coaching was working with teenage girls on their confidence. I found that girls would come to me frustrated with their swimming but the problem wasn't really with their swimming, it was with their confidence or their preparation. I gained a small following with moms and teenage girls and they would call their session with me "swim-therapy" but I knew I could provide something more for them outside a 30-minute swim-confidence session.

When I decided to start the LEAD Sports Summit, my goal was to bring together the best women in swimming that I knew, to work with teenage girls on all the important things that go into growing and maturing through your formative teen years as a female athlete. We have loved the ability to reach girls on such a personal and impactful level, and it has only fueled us to continue to grow LEAD and expand our reach every year.

How did competitive swimming help you in your career path?

KLJ: Swimming has definitely helped me to form my work ethic and people skills. Being a member of a team is such a valuable experience for kids and it's something that helps you long after sports are over with. Building a business is so much about building trust with your team and the partners you work with—which is something I learned from being an athlete.

What’s one of the most important lessons you learned as you grew LEAD Sport Summit?

KLJ: Something I constantly remind myself is to make sure that I am staying true to myself and following my passion. I am very appreciative of outside advice I receive from friends and family but ultimately I need to make decisions that are in alignment with what I value. It is something that has helped LEAD with our success as an early stage company and continues to help us grow in the direction we want.

What’s your number one tip for anyone who wants to achieve gr8ness in their lives?

KLJ: This might sound cliche but it's so true if you want to achieve gr8ness: "Don't quit once things start to get hard. It just means you're getting closer and that you are growing as a person!"

What do you do to achieve gr8ness? Let us know!

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