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How to Train like an Olympic Gold Swimmer

August 3rd, 2016

You may not be a gold medal hopeful at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but at least you will be able to train like an Olympic gold swimmer. Swimmers may spend their time competing in the pool, but to improve their performance in the water they need to spend time training on land. This helps to improve bone health and core strength. Dryland training should be used alongside water workouts and swimming laps to stay in top shape.

Swimming like an Olympian takes discipline and requires a lot of repetition, whether you are a sprinter or swim long-distance. Long-distance swimmers must push themselves to swim longer at a consistently fast speed without putting too much stress on their muscles. Sprinters, on the other hand, must focus on getting the most out of each stroke because they don’t have time to make up for a slow start.

What does a sprinters swimming routine look like?

Sprinters practice diving, pushing off from the wall, and swimming short distances. An Olympic underwater sprint is over in about 60 seconds, so any mistake can compromise the whole race. The numbers will vary from person to person, but Dara Torres, a five-time Olympic swimmer, swims for 2 hours per day, practicing drills and specialized laps.

What does a distance swimmers training routine look like?

Distance swimmers still need to learn how to be explosive off of starting blocks and how to position their body for a proper flip turn, but the most important focus in training a distance swimmer is form and stamina. Distance swimmers often swim for far longer than they will need to accomplish during their race to build up endurance. This can sometimes mean 19,312 meters (or 12 miles) in one swimming session, like Janet Evans, a four-time gold medalist for the U.S. team.

These intense training sessions not only include weight lifting, but activities that will increase flexibility, such as yoga and frequent massages. The most important elements of training like an Olympic gold medal swimmer involve what you put in your body (nutrition), as well as how you recover from each training session (recovery). Read on to learn more about a swimmer’s training regimen.

 Weight Training

Exercise outside of the pool is all about upper body strength and building the core. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, performs presses, front raises, and lateral raises with a dumbbell. Meanwhile, Dara Torres lifts weights for 60 to 90 minutes, four days a week.


Strength is important for swimmers, but it can hurt their swimming time if it is not balanced with flexibility. For a wide stroke in good form, Dara Torres performs yoga and stretching with a trainer. All Olympic swimmers receive frequent massages which help to relieve tension in the muscles.


Olympic swimmers must push themselves to be the very best in their field, and that means putting their muscles through a lot of stress. Ice baths are used to reduce swelling and soreness. A massage helps muscles to recover from stress, letting them become stronger instead of weaker


The most important step is to burn every calorie that is being taken in by the body. Olympic swimmers must consume more carbohydrates than the average individual because of how much energy they spend exercising. Michael Phelps consumes most of his daily dose of 12,000 calories before training, eating either oatmeal or cereal. After training, he switches to eggs and vegetables. Protein and vitamins are necessary for building and retaining muscle.

Olympic swimming takes a lot of work both inside and outside of the pool. From swimming form to food consumed, there is no compromise on quality. The most competitive swimmers must venture out of the pool to continue their training, but must also return to the water every single day. It may be tough, but the reward is not just fame but a healthier, longer life.

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