April 03, 2021 3 min read

Sports fans in the U.S. and around the world will soon be introduced to an American Olympic swim team that is without Michael Phelps for the first time since the 2004 games in Athens. There will certainly be other impressive American swimmers to keep an eye out for when the Tokyo games commence this summer. Up-and-comer Caleb Dressel is considered one of the athletes to watch at these Olympics, and has already broken some of Phelps’s records; Michael Andrew should also be a stand-out on the men’s team; and on the women’s side, the dominant Katie Ledecky will be looking to collect more gold medals.

swim tips from michael phelps

For his part though, Phelps is retired — and this time, he truly seems to have left the pool behind (at least in a professional sense). He has started a family, having Nicole Johnson on the cusp of the 2016 Olympics and subsequently had three children. He’s become a busy mental health advocate, primarily through a partnership with Talkspace. And he’s even found new competitions to get involved with. Phelps has publicly (if playfully) let it be known that he’s looking to improve his golf game. He’s also become known for his poker prowess, and is now counted among fellow athlete poker stars like soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo and ex-NBA great Paul Pierce.

Given all of these new pursuits, from family, to advocacy, to competitive hobbies, it’s safe to say Phelps really is done with the Olympics. Even with this being the case though, it’s hard to imagine that the presence of the most decorated Olympic swimmer in history won’t be part of the summer games. Phelps will be referenced consistently (and we imagine possibly interviewed), such that the Olympics will once again remind us how incredible he was to watch in his prime.

In other words, he’ll continue to be an inspiration. So as we inch toward the first Olympics without him in quite some time, we thought we’d take that inspiration in a practical way, and look back on some swimming and training tips we’ve gleaned from Phelps over the years.

Invest in Gear

The utility of swim caps and the benefits of using ear plugs are among the things competitive swimmers learn to appreciate fairly early on. But all too often even very good and regular swimmers settle for cheap gear and accessories. Phelps though has let it be known that he prioritizes quality gear. He’s spoken about it with regard to training accessories before, and he’s even helped to launch a brand “Phelps Brand” that sells certain quality swimwear and gear.

Train Every Day

Phelps has talked about the importance of preparation outside of the pool, including maintaining the right diet to maintain muscle and energy, and keeping the mind sharp. But according to his old coach Bob Bowman — who was instrumental in the Olympian’s astounding success — Phelps also trained every single day. This can be a combination of endurance training, strength traing and a healthy amount of yoga to keep the flexibility levels up. Granted, most of us aren’t chasing down Olympic medals, so the occasional day off. But the real lesson to learn is that consistency really does pay off.

Do Drills

For serious swimmers, the importance of drills may be obvious. But for those just looking to ramp up their training, it may come as a surprise that there even are drills. Plenty would assume that swimmers get by merely lifting weights, staying fit, perfecting technique, and swimming laps. Those efforts to comprise the bulk of the training process, but drills come in handy as well. Phelps has discussed his fondness for both kicking drills and an arm movement drill known as “sculling.”


The other major tip we can draw from Phelps is to get adequate sleep and then some while training. Among the swimmer’s daily habits, he seems to have prioritized this above all else, having stated that he “can’t say enough” how important it is. Phelps’s belief is that not enough people pay attention to the importance of sleep, and that’s a statement most of us can agree with.

These are simple but helpful tips that were part of what propelled Phelps to the heights of swimming history. So if you’re inspired to ramp up your own training while you’re watching the Olympics this summer — even without Phelps participating — it would be wise to keep them in mind!

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