Favorite Pastimes of Olympians: A Look into Their Lives Above Water

Photo Courtesy: Instagram, @kledecky

By Kate Walter, Swimming World Intern. 

Between attending practices, lifting weights, eating nutritious meals and traveling for meets, it seems as if Olympic swimmers can hardly take a moment to catch their breath. However, this is not the case. Just like anyone else, world-record holders and gold medalists also enjoy endeavors outside of the pool. Here are some pastimes of our favorite Olympians and ways they have eagerly shared how they like to spend their time when they’re not underwater.

Cooking up a Storm

Food is a swimmer’s best friend. While some people tend to believe the “swimmer diet” consists of gorging on unhealthy, calorie-dense foods, an essential part of any swimmer’s training is fueling properly to optimize performance and achieve a healthy balance. From sharing videos of themselves in the kitchen to posting pictures of their meals, several professional swimmers have taken up cooking as a big part of their lifestyle. Olivia Smoliga, 2016 Olympian, has documented her cooking adventures through her Instagram stories. Followers are invited into the process of attempting new recipes and making different foods. In an interview after her 100-meter backstroke win at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Knoxville Tenn., Smoliga eagerly talked about receiving a waffle iron as a Christmas present.

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin also shares her love of cooking with fans. In a 2016 interview with PEOPLE Magazine, Franklin described herself as a “huge breakfast person,” saying how she had “mastered the omelette flip in the pan.” Franklin is delving deeper into experimentation now that she is retired, sharing photos of beautifully crafted charcuterie boards. 

Musicians at Heart

The unmistakable hitch of Katie Ledekcy’s freestyle stroke helps explain her ability to keep the beat steady as she plays her musical instruments. Proving that her talents are not limited to the pool, Ledecky showed off her love for music and school spirit as she played the saxophone at a football game with the Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.


At the Golden Googles in November 2018, Ledecky and Elizabeth Beisel performed a duet to the Beatles Song “Let it Be.” The performance was a part of a “Swimmers Got Talent Skit,” with Ledecky on the piano and Beisel playing the violin. 

Beisel, captain of the USA Swim Team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, has shared deep love of music with the world. She posts videos of herself playing the piano and violin on Instagram and is known for her surprise performances at USA Swimming events.

Vlogging and Podcasting

2016 Olympic bronze medalist Cody Miller has taken the technology world by storm. Creating a vlog channel in Oct. 2017, he gives viewers an inside look into the life of a professional swimmer at the University of Indiana. This breaststroker has already garnered more than 86,000 subscribers. He has recently expanded platforms by starting “Cody Miller’s Podcast,” where he discusses relevant topics in the world of swimming. Miller’s use of social media and cinematography has provided him a unique and innovative way to connect with fans and followers.

Dogs… Cats… and Rats?!

No matter how busy they appear to be, professional swimmers always seem to find time to spend with their furry friends. Georgia Bulldog Chase Kalisz has seemed to take great pride in the mascot of his school, adopting an English bulldog named Floyd in 2018. Floyd lives with him in Athens, Ga., and has racked up 3,647 followers on his Instagram account @floydthebulldawg, documenting his adventures with Kalisz.

Cat lover Nathan Adrian often documents spending time with his kitten, Ash, who has stolen the hearts of Adrian’s fans thorough his adorable videos.

Backstroker Jacob Pebley and his wife Nicole adopted two pet rats, Lasagna & Fifel, in 2015. They even made an appearance in their engagement photo shoot!

Although professional swimmers train around the clock to achieve their goals, they also strive to find a healthy balance in their lives. Whether experimenting in the kitchen or practicing a song on the piano, the lives of these athletes can help teach us the importance of making time in the day for things – or animals – you love.

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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