4 Learning Moments from Rio

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports


Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

By Allison Pierce, Swimming World College Intern

The Olympics present a unique opportunity for swimmers to watch and learn from the best in the world. Here are four moments from Rio that age group and senior swimmers alike can learn from…

1. Push through the last 10 meters.


Photo Courtesy: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The last ten meters of any race — from the 50 to the 1500 — can be the most grueling. Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps demonstrated this week that this is when the race matters most.

In the 200 butterfly final, Phelps out-touched ­­Japan’s Masato Sakai to claim gold by .04 seconds. “The last ten meters were not fun,” Phelps said in an interview afterwards. “I thought I was standing still.”

Ledecky had a similar feeling in the 200 freestyle final. “It hurt really badly,” she mentioned in a post-race interview. “I’m pretty sure that’s the closest I’ve come to throwing up in the middle of a race. I’m just so glad I got my hand on the wall first. It was all worth it.”

2. Forget lane assignments.


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

While swimmers typically prefer middle lanes like lanes four or five, Kazakhstan’s Dmitry Balandin showed the world that these lane assignments are irrelevant. In a very close race, Balandin shocked the world. He earned Kazakhstan’s first swimming medal, with a gold in the men’s 200 breaststroke out of lane eight.

American sprinter Nathan Adrian also had a phenomenal swim from lane eight. In the 100 freestyle prelims, Adrian barely qualified for the semi-final, placing 16th. In the end, he won the semi-final from lane eight, in the first heat of the semi-finals.

3. Expect the unexpected.

Jul 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Natalie Coughlin of the United States adjusts her swim cap before the women's 100m freestyle swimming final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports 8/11/16

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images

We can run through a race a million times in our heads, but sometimes things do not go as anticipated. An excellent example of this from Rio is when Phelps’ capped ripped just moments before his leg on the 800 freestyle relay. While it is easy to panic, Phelps remained calm and quickly put on Conor Dwyer’s cap and dove in to win yet another gold medal.

4. Fuel your body.

nathan-adrian-breathe-prerace-rio 8/11/16

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

This year in Rio, swimming finals got moved late at night so that viewers could watch their favorite athletes compete live during primetime. The finals sessions have been concluding at almost midnight each night, excluding the extra time athletes take for warm down. The Olympians have a quick turn around between that and prelims the next day, so they have to make the most of that time.

Despite all the spotlight and distractions, swimmers remain focused on fueling their bodies. In every post-race interview, Adrian has be seen with a protein shake in his hand. According to the Denver Post, Phelps ate a whole pound of spaghetti after winning the 4×100 freestyle relay and went to sleep immediately afterwards. “I think I had a pound of pasta and spaghetti,” Phelps said. “I’m not a spaghetti fan, but I forced myself to eat it.”

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