July 2023 Member Spotlight: Lesley Gunderson, Winter Haven, Fla.
by USA Water Ski & Wake Sports
My dad taught me how to water ski when I was a little girl. He taught me how to ski by putting me on the front of his skis. When I was 10 years old, I started out in the Junior Aquanuts, and from there I found my passion for show skiing.
My dream was to become a professional water skier, and it came true in 1996 when I started skiing for the Tommy Bartlett Show in Wisconsin Dells. I made incredible memories. I was going to college at the University of Wisconsin, and I decided to take a year off to water ski internationally. I skied in Germany for the Holiday Park Show in 1999. From there, I went on to Australia for the Millennium Show that winter from 1999 to 2000. It was incredible skiing on New Year's Eve with fireworks in Darling Harbor. It's something I will always remember.
I went to China in the spring of 2000 to ski, and I ended up in Japan that summer. My travels were phenomenal, and I met so many people from all over the world who I'm still friends with. It was great to reconnect with them at the World Water Ski Show Tournament in October 2022.
After my year off for international travel, I finished school and earned a business degree. My last year skiing professionally was in 2001. I stepped away from skiing for a while. It wasn't until I had kids that I started getting back into skiing for fun on the weekends. I taught my daughters how to ski when they were toddlers, and they loved it. They began skiing for the Junior Aquanuts, where I started, back in 2019. It's been really fun to reconnect with the team, and I decided to rejoin the Senior Aquanuts in 2021. After a 20-year hiatus, I had my first show back on Memorial Day 2021. I competed all season, I loved it, and my kids are getting really into it now. We made a bold decision to move to Florida. Now we live in Winter Haven, but we still go up to Wisconsin to visit my parents during the summer. My 2022 season with the Aquanuts couldn't have been better. We won States and Nationals for the first time since the 1980s.
I am Lesley Gunderson. I am a show skier, and #WeAreWaterSki.