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Duos We Admire: Kim Vandenberg

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Competition swimmer and Olympic medalist, Kim Vandenberg, embodies everything about what it means to be a true HarperSage "Duo." She is soft, yet strong. She is an incredibly driven and successful athlete, but she has an artistic side as well. On top of that, she's a mentor and founded Rise Athletes-- a mindset development program for youth that helps empower the next generation of athletes!


Read on to learn more about her day-to-day as she navigates life, work, and style as a Duo We Admire!

What’s been your greatest high and lowest low as an athlete? 

My greatest high as an athlete was competing against the world record holder in the 200m butterfly at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia. Swimming at the Olympic Games in 2008 was also a big highlight! My lowest low was missing the Olympic team by one spot in 2012. 

Do you think balancing both soft and strong personality traits has contributed to your success as a female athlete?

Yes. Definitely. I believe that in order to be strong, it is essential to understand that vulnerability is necessary to create balance. Chasing after big goals requires risk and faith, and in that pursuit vulnerability is the key.  

What skills do you think every female athlete should embody to succeed? 

I think that every female athlete should be able to identify their strengths and their weaknesses. Identifying where you can grow is such an important part of the process and something that helped me immensely in my own career. Nobody is perfect, everybody has flaws. Embrace the self-perceived weakness to nurture growth.

Describe the mentalities you go into every practice and every competition? Do competition and practice mentalities differ from each other or are they the same? 

Great question. I believe they differ. Race mentality is a whole different animal in my opinion. I always thrived in the competition environment. Morning practices were such a struggle for me as I am a night owl and have bouts of insomnia. Pushing through those uncomfortable moments in practice does help prepare for racing. I love the quote, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” preparation is where confidence grows.  

One word to describe your weekday style. One word to describe your weekend style? 

Weekdays and weekends are the same for me as I am always working in some capacity. I value COMFORT above all else. I also love oversized clothes. My mom and my sister always joke with me about it. I also like vintage pieces that I find on my travels that have a story! 

How do your morning and night routines differ?

Black coffee in the morning and red wine at night 😊 

“Duos” often have secret skills or interests outside of what they are "known" for. What’s yours?

I love the piano. I have been playing the piano since I was 5 years old. I started playing piano before I started swimming! I also love to paint, write and dance. 

What’s the next thing you want to try outside of your comfort zone? 

I am pursuing my masters degree in psychology at Pepperdine University. I begin next week!  

Name an iconic duo (someone or something that is both soft and strong).

One of my many role models is Gabby Reece. She has always inspired me to be the best that I can be in the water and in life. I had the chance to meet her a few years ago, and I thanked her for all she does for female athletes and she invited me to swim with her and Laird. It was SO MUCH FUN. 

To keep up with Kim, you can follow her on Instagram!


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