Skier Bode Miller is a gold medal-winning five time Olympian, a dad of eight and a tireless advocate, with his wife Morgan, for pool safety. After their 19-month-old daughter Emeline drowned in June 2018, the family has spoken out about the layers of safety measures that can save children, including gates, alarms, and most importantly, swimming lessons. As we head into pool season, we are thrilled to feature Bode as this week’s Meet a Dad interview, in which he talks about this immensely important cause, his life as a Dad (including Olivia, born in December 2021) instilling resilience in his children and more.
Congratulations on the arrival of Olivia! How has it been adding another little one to the mix?
It’s been great. The boys love her. It’s brought out a gentler side of them.
Is the birth of your youngest daughter something that is especially meaningful to you?
Honestly, they are all special in their own way. Certainly, after losing Emmy, I looked forward to this one in a specific way.
This summer will mark four years since Emeline’s tragic passing. How does she inspire you, and your family, as you spread the word about water safety?
The most obvious thing is how much energy and love we put out each day towards our kids. Truly knowing that you could lose them at any time is painful but compels us to give each day everything we can. That same thing goes for water safety—knowing that a little more effort may save a child from drowning that day gives things a different sense of urgency.
What is crucial for people to know about water safety – even after pool season has come and gone?
It’s something that you have to be aware of at all times. I think it’s very common for people to let their guard down when they feel the risk isn’t as obvious or immediate. That can end up being the fatal mistake.
What’s something you don’t think most people realize about drowning?
Most people don’t realize how quick and silent drowning is.
I love the videos you’re posting of your little ones on skis – what is the best way to introduce a child to skiing?
Skiing should be fun. We started our kids right when they were able to walk. We never invested in lessons at first because it was great to spend time with the kids and it wasn’t about skill or form. It was about fun and just having time on skis. The key to fun is being warm when children first start so lots of layers and warm gloves are super important. A good helmet is key too.
If parents are reading this and want to encourage their kids to love (and excel) at sports, do you have any advice for them?
The two in my mind are directly correlated. If they want to excel, it’s the very rare athlete that can excel without loving it. So if they want to cultivate skill then you need to remove anything that would make them feel stressed. Let them have fun with it and love the sport so they grow in a way where they make the sport a part of them.
What would you say is your greatest strength as a dad?
I think patience and consistency is my greatest strength and also what I work on the most. It’s what allows kids to feel safe and build trust and it’s also one of the great challenges of being a parent.
How has your ski career prepared you for the ups and downs and pace of being a dad?
I had to develop humility and patience as well as the foundation of an “always learning” mentality—those have been the most helpful as a father.
As moms we think a lot about the importance of instilling resilience. How do you instill resilience in your own kids?
Same thing. By being very patient and letting them face their challenges without “plowing the road for them” or removing obstacles. That’s a very difficult balance to strike as a parent because they always want you to plow the road.
Photos: Courtesy Bode Miller