Make Waves

Olympic swimming hopeful dives into Charlotte life.

For Madison Kennedy, a member of Team USA, it’s not enough to simply train for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The 28-year old also works at lululemon and teaches classes four to five times a week at one of Charlotte’s most challenging fitness facilities: Hilliard Studio Method. The Connecticut native and Berkley grad moved to Charlotte four years ago to train with SwimMAC’s Team Elite, and says that while at first she wasn’t sure about life in the South, she has fallen in love with her adopted hometown.

MadisonKennedy_TakenByClaryHilliardGrayHow did you end up as an instructor at Hilliard?

After I missed the [Olympic] team in 2012, I didn’t want to leave Charlotte and I didn’t want to wait around for swimming to happen, so I started working at lululemon and they connected me to so much, including Hilliard. I took classes there and I thought, “This is ridiculous!” It was hard! But I love the owners there. They remind me of my mom and myself, strong, powerful people.


How does the Hilliard workout help you as a swimmer?

It’s really good for swimming. I was having a hard time lifting weights without having injuries and in a barre class, we use three- and eight-pound weights to work smaller muscles  so when you use heavy weights your muscles can handle it. I dislocated my shoulder last February and the only thing I could do was Pilates. Teaching at Hilliard rehabbed my shoulder. It’s a way to gain muscle definition without pushing beyond the limits of what your body should be lifting.


The Olympics are not too far off and you’re setting personal records. What are you focusing on as you try to make it to Rio?

I barely missed making the team in 2012 (there are only two spots per event) and as you get older, you specialize in events. I now focus on the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle. I feel like I just came into my prime. I’m still getting stronger, making strength gains, and dropping time in the water. My mom was right. She would always say you have to work and listen to your own body to be your best athlete.


You and your fiancé spent three days in the car driving cross country to move to Charlotte from Berkley, California, and managed to not only stay together, but you unexpectedly fell in love with Charlotte.

Growing up in Connecticut, I said, “I’ll never live in the South,” but here I am, loving the restaurants, the people. I teach for a great family and I work for a great company. It feels like we’re here at the cusp of Charlotte growing and becoming a huge big city. We moved here from San Francisco and we missed certain kinds of restaurants, but since we’ve lived here, similar restaurants have popped up, and it’s cool to be on the forefront and able to appreciate it. The city is growing and we’re here.