Lucy Alessi reached a life milestone this summer — and she just turned 10 on Wednesday.
The Clarence Center Elementary School fifth-grader and swimmer published her first book, a 47-page look into her yearlong effort to improve her times and forge new friendships on a pair of Western New York swim teams.
"BRB I Need to go to Swim Practice: A girl's guide to competition, confidence and fun through swimming," spent a few hours in recent weeks atop the new swimming releases list and in the swimming category on Amazon, which sells more than 2,000 books on the topic.
She hopes that success will serve as a springboard to two other goals: one day appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and swimming on the U.S. Olympic Team.
Meanwhile her father, Derek — owner of Dr. Derek Health and Fitness in Clarence, and author of three health and fitness books — has helped Lucy set up a website, lucyswimwear.com, where she sells her debut work for $9.95.
Why write a book?
"I just thought, 'OK, I’m going to get famous,' said Lucy, who dedicated it to her family, including her dad, her mom, Andrea, brother, Luca, 7, and sister, Serafina, 6.
Pearls of wisdom include, "Swimming truly has two competitions: one against others and the other against your own best personal record," and "swim gear is, like, the coolest thing ever."
She designed a T-shirt and swim cap, which she also sells on her website, and likes to collect swim caps from others she swims with at meets and practices.
Lucy took her first swimming lesson at 5 months old, joined the Clarence Learn to Swim program at age 4 and the University at Buffalo-based Buffalo Area Aquatic Club last year.
She is excited about her new coach, Mike Cutler, who moved to the region last month from Grand Rapids, Mich., where he ran a similar team that spawned several Division I college swimmers.
Q: How did you write the book? Did you keep a journal?
A: No. Every Sunday morning, my dad and I would sit down and write for 20 to 45 minutes. I told the story and my dad typed, because obviously I don't type that well.
Q: What does BRB stand for in your title?
A: Be right back. I got if from Justice Clothing for Girls. I use it in texting when I can't talk.
Q: How often do you swim?
A: Four nights a week and on Saturdays. We swim sets. Sometimes they're hard. Sometimes they're easy. I remember one time we had to do 1,000 yards.
A: There are four strokes: Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. I have two favorites, freestyle and breaststroke.
Q: You say the backstroke is hardest. Why?
A: Looking up, swimming on your back, you can't see where you're going.
Q: What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned?
A: To not miss my events. I missed one because I wasn't paying attention. When you get to a meet, you're assigned an event, a heat and a lane. Swimmers can't use paper and my Sharpie was dying. I had to press extra hard when I wrote on myself, then couldn't read my writing. I ended up with the older kids and I lost.
Q: What are the key tips in your book?
A: Practice. Pay attention. Don't miss your event. Pace yourself for longer distance unless you're in the championships. Then I just go all out. Be friendly with the people you swim with.
Q: What do your brother and sister think about the book?
A: My sister is too young to understand most of it. My brother doesn't read books; he's too busy on his iPad. (Both siblings tried to put together books of their own, their father said.)
Q: How do you plan reach the Olympics?
A: Swim faster. I was also going to see if I could get Michael Phelps' phone number, because he might know a guy.