Breeja Larson, Olympic Gold Medalist Talks About The Olympian Mindset, Bravery, and Thought Replacement Coaching, Episode 30

Meet Breeja Larson. She is an American competition swimmer who specializes in the breaststroke and is an Olympic gold medalist. She earned a gold medal in the 4×100-meter medley relay at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She is also a 2013 world champion and nine-time American record holder. This week she joins me to share her road to becoming an Olympian, the importance of having an open mind for accepting advice from unlikely sources, and how she works to have a better understanding of her emotions, recognizing patterns, and determining how she can move forward. 

Larson was born in Mesa, Arizona, one of seven sisters. She grew up humbly and decided to do everything in her power to get to the Olympics. Initially, inspired as a little girl by gymnasts; eventually, Breeja found her “lane” in swimming. As a senior in high school, she was the state runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke.

She attended Texas A&M University, where she swam for the Texas A&M Aggies swimming and diving team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition from 2011 to 2014. Breeja is a 3X NCAA Champion, earned her degree in Psychology during that time, and later accomplished a Masters in Sports Management.

Meanwhile, in terms of her Olympic career, at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, the qualifying meet for the 2012 Olympics, Larson made the U.S. Olympic team for the first time the 100-meter breaststroke. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she earned a gold medal by swimming for the winning U.S. team in the 4×100-meter medley relay’s preliminaries. Amongst her athletic accomplishments, she is also a motivational coach and is currently training to attend the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics.

Tune in to hear Breeja’s thoughts pertaining to:

  • How COVID-19 is impacting Olympic Trials and Breeja’s Olympic journey (3:28)
  • Breeja shares the process behind getting ready for the Olympics, including training every year like it’s the Olympic year. (5:45)
  • Breeja answers the question, “Do you feel like you are going to drop a ball?” (9:08)
  • Her thoughts on pressure as a privilege and a tool. Learning how to handle pressure instead of it handling you. (10:18)
  • Different tools and techniques to help you through your different mental cycles. Breeja shares one of the tools she uses, a mood color chart. (13:00)
  • Where she learned her work ethic and why she believes she doesn’t have a P&G commercial moment. (16:08)
  • The notion of really wanting something and working for it, as well as, her inspiration for wanting another shot at winning an Olympic gold medal. (17:18)
  • Breeja opens up about how her love of gymnastics evolved. (18:24)
  • Why she decided to fund her braces, and how that focus translated into her pursuing a college degree. (34:02)
  • How to get people to lift themselves up versus allowing them to succumb to excuses. (36:59)
  • Breeja’s coaching focus: thought replacement. (39:31)
  • The moment Breeja missed the mark and jumped into the pool too early. (45:57)

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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