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Blog guest: Mladen Tepavcevic

Mladen Tepavčević, a finalist of the world and European aquatics championships, former Olympic swimmer for the national team of Serbia. Mladen competed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, in the 100m breaststroke, and qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games with the 1:02.80. In the 2003 World Championship in Barcelona, Mladen Tepavčević achieved the best success when he qualified for the finals in 50m breaststroke where he made the national Serbian record with 28.10. He participated in the 2005 World Championship. Today, as a swimming coach in the club Sundfelag Hafnarfjardar- SH and National Swimming Team of Iceland, he reveals for the Swimming Dad as a #Blog guest, whether he has succeeded in nourishing his needs for sport since he became a father of three, and whether he has taken his children to big swimming competitions and was it a hard or a pleasurable experience.

Have you taken you children to any of the swimming competitions since you became a parent and how old were they then? If yes, which ones?

I am a dad of 3 great boys Andrej 6 y.o., Viktor 3 y.o. and Nikola 5 months old, and a swimming coach. I am coaching in Iceland, in club SH in Hafnarfjordur just outside of Reykjavik and working as a national coach for Icelandic Swimming Association. Being swimming coach means working in the mornings and afternoons, but also working on weekends when most of the competitions are. Unfortunately, that takes a lot of time away from the family. Generally, I don´t take my family with me during the big competitions outside Iceland. I wouldn´t like them to be bored or spend few days in hotel just so I could see them sleeping in the evening or spend 30 min between two swimming sessions with them. We like having boys in their routine with sleeping, school and kindergarten, playing and training. My boys often come to visit me during the swim competitions on Iceland and I am really happy when they come. Andrej made his first steps in the hotel where I was during the Nordic Championships in Swimming in 2013. They also really like to come and watch when I am swimming. Since I still do some masters competitions and water polo games, then they come and cheer for me and the team.

What is your experience with children at sport competitions (positive or negative)? Was it a pleasure or a pain?

As I said before, it is great to have kids at the competition but not for a very long time. I always want them to feel special when they go to the pool, my trainings or competition, and having them for too long on the pool deck specially during the long matches would take that magic away. I had my family with me this summer during Icelandic age group championships in one small town in the north of Iceland during a 4-day competition. And it was a really great experience. It was an outdoor pool with a lot of playgrounds and sport fields, so they could play and not just stand and watch swimming. It was also much easier for me because I could focus on team and races and still enjoy having my kids and my wife next to me. Nikola was only 1 month at that time, so he was sleeping most of the time in a stroller, but Andrej and Viktor were playing with the rest of the kids from the team. And team took really good care of them. I also like taking my boys with me sometimes to a training session, they play on the pool deck and learn how to stay safe next to the pool. We always set the safety rules of what they can do when they are next to the pool, so they can have a great experience and I don´t need to worry too much of them falling into the pool.

Since you are a parent, do you manage to fulfil your need for sport?

I work quite a lot at the pool. I am coaching 1 st team, couple of beginners’ groups, running courses for adults and master swimming, water polo and triathlon. I am also teaching swimming in 3 rd and 4 th grade in one school since swimming is a part of the primary school curriculum in Iceland and until recently I was teaching sports in one kindergarten, but stopped with that when I got involved with national team. All that work and family life doesn´t give me too much space to just for myself, but I try to stay in a decent shape. I play water polo in the evenings 2-3 times per week and go couple of mornings to swim with my wife when kids are at school and kindergarten and when the little one is taking a nap so we can also spend some time together swimming and relaxing in our hot tub. I think that it is really important to stay in shape since running after 3 kids and playing with them takes a lot of energy, but those are the best parts of the day. On weekends we often go to the pool and just play for couple of hours. Swimming pools in Iceland are family places with lot of warm shallow pools, water slides, hot tubs and plenty of toys so we really enjoy spending time together there.


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