Meet Andy Potts – World Champion triathlete, Olympian, and Dad

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I want to introduce you to some awesome Moms and Dads as I write these letters to you. I’m doing my best to balance being a husband to your mom, a good dad to you kids, and an athlete, but there are some amazing people in the world who are doing these things too. I think it’s important for you to meet them.

I’d known about Andy Potts for a long time, but I remember seeing him compete for the first time in person at Ironman Longhorn (Austin) 70.3 in October 2010. It was my first half ironman and watching Andy build a big lead on the swim served as a nice distraction for me while I was battling my own butterflies before the start.

Andy was a 6x All-American swimmer at The University of Michigan and a track athlete in his senior year. Shortly after college he took up triathlon and has been one of the sports most recognizable faces ever since. He competed for the USA at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece just 22 months after starting in the sport. He then went on to claim the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2007 and has followed up with numerous wins across the globe including 4 impressive showings in Kona at the Ironman World Championships.

So far this season he has wins at Ironman 70.3 St.Croix and Ironman California 70.3.

Everyone knows Andy’s a stud swimmer and has brought his cycling and running up to match his abilities in the water. But I wanted to get to know Andy the husband and dad.

I recently had a chance to talk with Andy Potts about his life away from triathlon and how he balances his family life during the racing season.

  1. How long have you and Lisa been married?

Andy: We’ve been married for 8 years, and together for 15 years.

2.    How did you meet?

Andy: We met at the University of Michigan. I was a swimmer and she was a gymnast. We met at a party off campus.

3.    What part does Lisa play in your success as an athlete?

Andy: Well, she is an athlete too, so she understands the physical and mental toll that my training and racing takes, so she empathizes well.

4.    The time commitment it takes to excel in triathlon, particularly at the pro level is a source of stress for a lot of couples. How do you two deal with that?

Andy: Being a pro doesn’t necessarily make it any easier, but it does have its perks. I’m able to be more flexible with my schedule and work around family stuff, like taking my son to school. Going to a lot of races can be stressful, so we’ve had to work on celebrating the lifestyle and opportunities along the way.

5.    Lisa battled thyroid cancer in 2004. How did that experience change your perspective on both sport and life?

Andy: Lisa is my best friend and the love of my life. That experience taught me a lot about perspective and what’s really important. I used to get caught up in the minutia of life, all of the little details and stresses, but now I’ve learned not to worry about things that don’t matter. We’ve distanced ourselves from gossip and drama. We’re positive about life and experiences. We take deep breaths and live in the moment.

6.    Tell us about your kids. How did your triathlon life change when Boston was born and again when Sloane was born?

Andy: My son Boston is 5 and my daughter Sloane is 2 now. Triathlon life didn’t change a lot, because we committed to incorporating the kids into the lifestyle. You know, we feed the kids what we eat and we focus as a family on what’s important. We like to celebrate the small moments with them. Racing gives me so many big moments. Being a professional triathlete is exciting because its instant validation, but the best teaching moments are when the cameras are off and the crowds are gone. Family meals, taking them to school, just little things like that. Our kids see that we’re invested in them. They respond positively when they know they have our attention. We’re giving them tools to succeed in life.

7.    Do the kids travel with you to races?

Andy: Early on Lisa and Boston came to almost all of my races. With four of us now the logistics have become more difficult so the family comes to about 50% of my races.

8.    Away from triathlon what does the Potts family do for fun?

Andy: We basically built a park in our backyard; tree swings, a playhouse, a sandbox, lots of open space with toys, so we spend a lot of time as a family in our own backyard. Also, Lisa started a company called Cupcake Girls in 2011, so we’ve been spending a ton of time getting that business up and running. We’re remodeling a shop here in Colorado Springs and we have even a place for kids to hang and play at the store.

9.    What do you hope your kids will remember about your career as a professional triathlete?

Andy: Work for what you want in life. No one is going to hand you anything, so you have to go for it and work very hard for what you want. I hope they learn how to handle both success and failure. Sportsmanship matters, not only in sport, but in life in general. I want them to know how to handle adversity and hardships with a positive attitude. And finally, and this is a little personal I guess, but I want them to know that their dad was one of the best in the world at what he chose to invest his time in.

10.  Favorite family movie?

Andy: Cars

11.  Boston and Sloane’s favorite race destination?

Andy: They love being in Kona. But not necessarily the travel to get there. Traveling with kids, even for us pros, isn’t always glamorous. The pictures of our families at the finish line are great, but those only tell part of the story. We have to pack the rental car and pile into a single hotel room just like everyone else.

12.  Typical prerace meal – the night before and the morning of?

Andy: The morning of is always muffins. Yep, muffins. The night before? I don’t really have a set meal that I go to every time. You know, I learned a lot from the kids. They eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. And they eat what they like. If there’s some meal that I know is healthy for me and good for my racing – but I don’t like it – I’m not eating it.

13.  If you weren’t a professional triathlete what would you be doing?

Andy: Teaching and coaching swimming

14.  3 people you’d love to hang out with for a day, excluding family and people you see regularly now?

Andy: Ayn Rand, the economist Thomas Sowell, and Jackie Robinson

15.  Favorite band or artist?

Andy: David Gray

It was a pleasure getting to speak to Andy and I hope you kids enjoyed meeting him too. You can follow his race results and more on his website at AndyPottsRacing.com. 

You can also follow him on Twitter  @Andy_Potts

Love,

– Daddy

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