How to train like an Olympic swimmer

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Aug 2, 2016, 2:21 PM | Updated: Aug 4, 2016, 2:14 pm


Beginning Aug. 6, the best swimmers from around the world will compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio. Swimmers like Camille Adams, Anthony Ervin and 18-time gold-medal winner Michael Phelps will put their training to the test in this the epitome of competition.

But, how did they get there? Proper training and top-notch facilities are a good start. Here are seven ways to train like an Olympic swimmer.

Have an individualized training plan

As much as a one-size-fits-all answer would be nice, the truth is what works for one might not work for another. This is where an individualized training plan comes in.

Depending on the events you train for, whether you do spring or long distance, you will need to have your training catered to those specific events. Additionally, you will need to take into consideration age, gender and ability.

Get an experienced coach

Having a training plan is a great first step but having accountability by way of an experienced coach will take you to that next level. A coach will likely give you your training plan and be right there to time your intervals, critique your technique and give you encouragement or yes, even reprimand when your performance needs improving.

Train with others

While a coach is great to help train you from outside the pool, teammates or training partners are invaluable tools in the water.

A training partner will give you accountability to wake up when you’d rather sleep in, an extra push when you’re feeling like quitting and help to build a bond with others in what is very much an individual sport.


The great thing about swimming is that it burns a lot of calories that must be replenished, but it’s not just any calories.

Olympic swimmers lose electrolytes that must be replaced through eating lots of fruits and vegetables; muscle that needs to be kept healthy through eating healthy proteins such as nuts and lean meats; carbohydrates that need to be stored for energy to train and compete at high levels. And while much of the time is spent in water, it is not the kind you drink, so athletes must make sure to drink plenty of fluids.

Strength train

Contrary to what you may think, Olympic swimmers don’t spend all of their training time in the pool. In fact, a good portion of training, especially during the offseason, is spent strength training through weights and other methods.

In a recent interview given to Men’s Fitness, Phelps spoke about this, saying, “In preparation for Beijing, I started adding weightlifting to my dryland work,” Phelps said. “Since then, we’ve expanded the amount of weights I am using, and I’m running more than I ever have. Pushups and pullups have also always been essential.”

Be mentally tough

While getting your body in peak physical condition is crucial to becoming an Olympic swimmer so is getting your mind ready. This is where mental toughness comes in.

In the same article mentioned above, Phelps recalled the time in the Beijing Olympics when water filled his goggles, and he said that it was his mental training that got him through it.

“I didn’t panic,” he said. “I went back to all of my training. I knew how many strokes it takes me to get up and down the pool, so I started counting my strokes. I didn’t reach the time I was aiming for, but I did win the race.”

Have your own pool or training spa

Having a coach and teammates to train with at world-class facilities is, no doubt, something that will get you to that next level, however, there is nothing like having your own swimming pool or swim spa to head out and train in at your own convenience.

From large backyard pools to spas and small lap pools, you can have your very own training pool right at your home, customized to your training needs.

For more information on how to have your own pool to train like the Olympians, Presidential Pools can help.


Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy is the founder and CEO of Presidential Pools, Spas & Patio, the #1-rated pool builder in Arizona by Pool & Spa News. Since 1991, the company has been transforming thousands of backyards, providing custom design and building services for swimming pools, spas and patios in the Phoenix Valley and Tucson metro area.


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How to train like an Olympic swimmer