Olympian Katie Hoff Set to Release ‘Blueprint’ Memoir

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Photo Courtesy: Todd Anderson

Katie Hoff had one of the most decorated careers in swimming history.

It was a career filled with triumphs and devastation, joy and darkness — and finally, perspective.

But after her career that included two Olympics, a world record and several American records, Hoff disappeared from the sport for several years, making a comeback attempt that was halted by blood clots.

Hoff discusses her life and career in a memoir titled “Blueprint” that will be released Nov. 27. It will be available on Amazon.com.

“Everyone has a blueprint in their life,” Katie Hoff told Swimming World. “There is not a single architect that ever has a blueprint for a home and doesn’t have to adjust, adapt … blue is water, swimming, it flowed. It just made sense.”

Hoff said it took some time for every part of her career to sink in, but now that it has, she wanted to provide an honest, open and transparent memoir.

“I wasn’t ready to face some of the painful moments of my career. I wasn’ t ready to write a vulnerable, real story,” Hoff said. “I kind of ran away from the swimming world in general for a while.”

Hoff started to feel her story again when she started speaking as part of the TEDx Talks.

“It started with doing the TedX talk,” she said. “That was the first time I really got on stage and said some things that I never said, like it took me a long time to really like my medals. Talking about it felt right. It then took about another year to realize to be my best self, I have to embrace everything that happened my career, good and bad. If I want to share that with as many people as possible, it needed to be a book. It just flipped a switch.”

Hoff started writing, but it was more difficult than she imagined.

“I got 40 pages in and I was like, ‘I suck at this.’I was fortunate enough that my parents knew a professional novelist.  I wasn’t sure how someone could help write something in my voice. I really liked ‘Open’ by Andre Agassi. I wanted something like this. The writer said he thought we should do something like ‘Open’ and then from that point forward, it just kind of clicked. I had to let go and trust him, view him as a coach. It was someone to hold you accountable and push you like a coach.

“I was so nervous when I got the first draft. My husband said he talks like me better than I talked like me. He did such a great job of capturing everything in a positive, but real way. It truly worked out.”

Hoff was able to find that open story.

“I really went in full. I didn’t hide a thing. The only way that it was going to work and get in my head was to strip it all away and say it all and feel comfortable to have no judgement.”

The book will have all elements of an autobiography.

“Like any memoir, it definitely builds through my career beginning when I was a kid. I was able to shine a light on how competitive I was and how obsessive I was even as a kid,” she said. “I took that into my time at Athens and see the heat of the media for the first time. That meet toughened me up.”


Katie Hoff. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

A lot of that stemmed from being dubbed the “Female Phelps” after winning five events at the 2008 trials.

“I hit on 2008 and the ‘Female Phelps’ piece and the way I viewed it an others viewed it. I talked about how difficult post-2008 was with switching coaches. At the same time, trying to be a normal teenager. Now looking back, I have a lot more perspective about how not normal that was,” she said. “As I was doing research for this, making sure everything was accurate, I was astounded about the amount of times the “Female Phelps” term was being used. It makes sense how that was framed. I didn’t discourage it, especially after winning five events at trials and setting world records and American records.

“I did the same thing at the Olympics when I broke the American record in the 200 free, but it was fourth. I allowed that to permeate my Olympic games. It was because of that title, that is why I was so disappointed. The 400 IM was a half second off my best time at trials, I had the fastest relay split in American history. But I remember being physically and emotionally beaten down by those eight days. I don’t blame anybody for that. I won my first Olympic medal and felt terrible. That is when I look back and understand what that meant. It certainly taught me a lot.

“The thing I am most proud of is being able to talk about the health issues and the transition and what that looks like. After watching ‘Weight of Gold’ with Michael Phelps … it is something that isn’t talked about enough. There was a reason I disappeared. I wanted to shine light on the mental health side of things.”

Mental health issues are something she didn’t want to hide from because she wanted to help people dealing with similar situations.

“2009 was really low. I had a lot of moments of hyperventilation and not being able to get a grip. The identity piece. Falling so far from the build up,” Katie Hoff said. “After retirement, after the blood clots, 2016 was really rough, too. I think it was almost worse because I was pretending everything was OK. ‘Tough it out’ is the cliche in sports. Mental heath was not something to say. I wasn’t ready to write this story until I was ready to be honest. I wasn’t ready until 2-3 years ago.”
Now, Hoff is hoping her honest story will be a source of help and empowerment for readers.

“I hope that readers will feel empowered to keep fighting and relentless to find their extraordinary feeling. Swimming was a vehicle that gave me that feeling, and I am finally able to realize that,” Katie Hoff said. “To feel fulfilled you have to find that feeling. It will take a lot of times being knocked on your butt, but you have to get up and find it.”

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Ryan Guerra
3 years ago

I’m going to buy this book. I was alway fascinated by her career. She was the best in the world and then mysteriously struggled at the 2008 Olympics. I always thought her and Paul Yetter made a good team but maybe the moment was too big for them both at the time. Making the choice to move onto Bob Bowman was a terrible decision and, predictably, ended up being a disaster. I really thought her swimming career was on its way to a happy ending with Sean Hutchison, but, through no fault of Katie’s, Sean and USA Swimming betrayed her and others that trained at FAST. And then the health issues. She went through a lot and It looks like she’s doing well in life. Kudos to her.

Mike Mcgowan
3 years ago

If I’m not mistaken she retired because she had AFIB. Whether she had it in 2008 or 2012 not sure. I had it and it devastates the endurance and very dangerous

3 years ago

Freelance Swimming Instructor who’s currently based in Abu Dhabi and who’s committed to serve the best of the sport to its Customer.

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