Gutter Talk: What Have Veterans Learned From Previous Olympic Experiences?


Gutter Talk: What Have Veterans Learned From Previous Olympic Experiences?

With the World Championships in Doha now concluded, the focus for swimmers around the world has fully shifted to upcoming Olympic Trials or this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. Some athletes have previously competed at the Olympics, and their experience may prove beneficial in the coming months.

Swimming World asked several veterans: What have you learned from your previous Olympic experience that can help you succeed in Paris?

Luke Greenbank, Great Britain

Luke Greenbank British trials 2022

Luke Greenbank: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

I think for me, it would be the swimming aspect of an Olympics, and keep it simple. There’s obviously a lot going on around you, and it’s easy to get distracted. For me, Tokyo seemed like a bit of a bubble due to COVID regulations, so it was quite easy to focus on the swimming, and I found that helped to take some of the pressure off as well.

Arno Kamminga, Netherlands

Not necessarily learned in Tokyo…but overall: Surround yourself with the right people, work hard and have fun…only way to the top.


Chad Le Clos, South Africa

Chad Le Clos of South Africa celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 200m Butterfly Men Final during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 15th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

My previous experiences have all been unique in their own ways. In London, I was pretty green, and I was very excited. That played to my strengths, I think. Rio, there was a hell of a lot more pressure on my coming in as the defending champion (in the 200 butterfly). So the experience was very, very different, and I had some difficult challenges outside the pool with my family, my mom especially being very sick with cancer. So that was a weird one for me, probably the most difficult one. And Tokyo was hard to even put into words because it didn’t feel like an Olympics.

If I combine the three experiences, I’d say I’ve learned to manage the highs and manage the lows. Don’t let the highs be too high, and don’t let the lows be too low. Just make sure that you’re staying cool in the leadup to it, with your preparation, with your rest, with your recovery.

At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to moments. It’s a minute, two minutes, four minutes, whatever. Everything comes down to moments. Prepare yourself the best you can, and enjoy the whole buildup.

Emma McKeon, Australia

To expect the unexpected and just roll with it. The Olympics is full of surprises.

Regan Smith, USA

I like having the experience of a Games under my belt so I know what I’m in for. Granted, it was a COVID year last time, so things are going to look different regardless, but I remember feeling that way about 2021 Olympic Trials. I liked that I had 2016 Olympic Trials under my belt, so I walked into 2021 Trials knowing what to expect, kind of knowing the way that things work and how things were going to work, and I wasn’t going into it blind, so I think that eased my pre-race anxiety. I like knowing what to expect, so that will be great.

Matt Temple, Australia

I have learned to never give up and always have a crack. Don’t be sad in the results, and look for all the positives for next time.

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