Lexie Kelly - dryrobe® Ambassador
We are excited to announce that professional marathon swimmer and USA Swimming coach Lexie Kelly has joined dryrobe® as an ambassador!
Lexie is a former NCAA swimmer from Newport Beach, California. After finishing her pool swimming career, she focused her attention on open water swimming and has competed on the FINA Grand Prix professional marathon swimming circuit. Lexie is also a USA Swimming coach, teaching all levels, in both the pool and open water.
We caught up with Lexie to find out a bit more about her, including what inspired her passion for the open water, her plans for the rest of 2021 and her awesome Blue Fawn Frenchie dog, Kai!
Do you remember when you first started swimming and why you wanted to pursue it professionally?
I first started swimming when my mom put me in lessons as a toddler. When I was 8 years old I started on a summer swim team and began year-round swimming (double days) when I was 12, along with my 3 other siblings.
I swam club and high school, then pursued at the collegiate level at California State University Bakersfield. After college swimming was over, I found myself still loving it and waking up to workout before going to work still at 5 am, where I met my coach and mentor (Steve Munatones - the guru of open water) at a small pool in Orange County, California who got me into open water swimming.
What is it about open water swimming that you love and what inspired you to transfer from a career in pool swimming?
I love ALL things swimming. Growing up with club swimming and college swimming where everything is so cookie-cutter, open water is an empty canvas with an endless amount of opportunities. There are so many types of water, temperature, conditions, distances etc. that even the same race or course can be different day to day, or even hour to hour. It’s never the same and there are so many variables that make it so strategic.
It’s more about an experience than having everything so black and white. Of course, I love both, but after beating myself up about times over the years, it’s fun to have a different avenue to enjoy swimming in a completely different way.
I have also met so many like-minded people all around the world, from various countries that all share the same passion of all different types. It’s fun that having such a common denominator can really bring so many diverse human beings together. I have some of the best friendships from the events I’ve gone to and the places I have gotten to swim!
You’ve competed at some incredible events in over 40 countries including the FINA Grand Prix professional marathon swimming circuit. Which event stands out from the rest and why?
I am lucky to have the opportunity to compete in the circuit in so many amazing and unique places. One of my greatest accomplishments was completing one of the coldest and longest races I have done in Quebec, Canada. It was 32K and over 7 hours in chilly water. It was physically hard but I proved my mental strength in this one in so many ways that it sticks out in my mind.
On the same level is a race in Argentina I completed that was 57K and over 9 1/2 hours of swimming in very warm conditions. It was my longest race ever and an extremely tough mental and physical challenge too.
Where is your favourite place to swim and what makes it special to you?
I am lucky to live in beautiful Southern California, so I absolutely love swimming here.
It’s hard to compare them all because there are so many unique and special places that are so different from one another. If one stands out most, it is probably the Cayman Islands where my Open Water career began.
I went down to Grand Cayman where I worked for the Flowers Sea Swim to help understand the sport from top to bottom - organising events, training, competing and living there for 3 months. It is hard to beat their incredible white sand beaches, crystal clear warm waters, gorgeous scenery, swimming with incredible wildlife (parrotfish, eagle rays, turtles) and feeling like a mermaid out there!
It is probably the most special to me because it was where it all started - and a hard bar to beat at that!
What’s the best thing about being a USA swimming coach?
I LOVE coaching all levels from beginners to advanced. I enjoy getting to share my passion and coaching all types of goals and dreams. I live in Newport Beach, California where we have a huge summer program for Junior Lifeguards (kids that learn about ocean safety and beach skills). In order to make it into the program and have a fun summer on the beach, there is a swim test they must take. So I get to prep a ton of kids to pass the test. It makes me so happy that they are going out and swimming in the open water and learning so many valuable skills.
I also coach high school swimming, so I go to competitive swim meets and get to enjoy some of my past with events and teaching technique, stroke and details.
I love the diversity the sport has, and enjoy coaching all levels, whether it’s an elite swimmer, someone wanting to use it for fitness, getting into Junior Lifeguards, achieving a great workout with a low impact sport for their health, learning to swim and be water safe - whatever it may be.
There are SO many opportunities and goals with the sport and I love getting to share what I have learned from it over the years with others.
You have an awesome Blue Fawn Frenchie dog called Kai! Did he naturally take to the water when first introduced?
I travelled so much that I was never planning to get a dog, however with the pandemic, a lot of change happened and a lot of positive things came out of it. I got my Blue Fawn Frenchie and named him Kai. It means “Ocean” in Hawaiian. I named him that specifically because I love the ocean and beach so much, but ironically he lives up to his name. I would take him to the beach and his energy would just change. He would get so happy and excited, almost as if he were implementing how I felt inside about going there too!
I would let him run, then eventually started throwing balls and sticks into the water where he would bravely run out and fetch them. Frenchie bodies are not necessarily made for swimming, but he would always eat healthy (raw) and walk the island with me every day - so he is very fit and lean for his breed. It shows a lot about diet and exercise just looking at him.
He just loves the water and I know getting him was meant to be, based on this quality and the timing of getting him. He’s really lived up to his name!
What are you looking forward to the most for the rest of 2021?
I am lucky that I get to do what I love year-round. Living in Southern California we do not have a huge change in climate throughout the year, so swimming outdoors is a year-round thing. I look forward to taking a little time to travel in September and October, maybe getting to swim in some cool new open water locations - of course bringing my Frenchie Kai. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to coach, teach and train like I do day-to-day.