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How to Swim Like Michael Phelps

June 22, 2013 0 Comments

The most decorated athlete in history, Michael Phelps has dominated the last few Olympics and is arguably the best competitive swimmer, well, ever. His almost-freakish abilities are in part due to his ridiculously long torso and somewhat stubby legs; the man was literally built to swim. Want to learn to swim like the master? Check out a few pro tips!

Mental Preparation

Phelps is known for his hardcore ambition in terms of goals he sets. He is also known for ignoring pain while training or competing. This isn’t to say you should go for the Monty Python it’s-only-a-flesh-wound routine when training–if you’re hurt, take the appropriate measures to rectify the problem. However, Phelps’ mental toughness is certainly admirable. Like all great athletes, he has the ability to block out everything else except the task at hand.
Don’t knock yourself down with “I can’t.” Turn it into “I sure will!!”


As with most swimmers, Phelps is a hairless wonder. Shaving your entire body will help increase your speed while swimming as hair creates more drag in the water. If you don’t feel like shaving your head as well, follow Phelps and never get in the water without a swim cap.

Warm Up

Warm up like Phelps by swimming 100 yards in 1 minute and 40 seconds. Do this five times before decreasing your time to 1 minute 20 seconds. You’ll need to do five sets of the decreased time as well. Follow this with 10 repetitions of 400 yards and 25 repetitions of 100 yards. If you haven’t passed out yet, get out of the pool and perform a few exercises, such as push-ups, standing squats, assisted sit-ups, corner lunges, and v-sits. Congratulations. You’ve just warmed up like Michael Phelps.

Extend Your Stroke

The Olympian is known for his crazy-long stroke, so working on extending yours will certainly help you swim like Phelps. His coach, Bob Bowman, will tell you Phelps gets his power from long rather than fast strokes.

“The average freestyle swimmer takes 12 to 16 strokes to cover 25 yards. Michael requires just six to eight,” says Bowman. “Follow his lead by trying to trim one stroke per pool length the next time you jump into the water.”

Bowman suggests making a conscious effort to extend your arms. Sure, it’s going to feel weird at first, but you’ll be faster and stronger once you start hitting your extended strokes at previous short-stroke speed. You’ll also be in better shape!

Bowman also suggests using a medicine ball for dry land exercise, as this will help you “slice” through the water better. The coach’s favorite is the “diagonal woodchopper:”

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a medicine ball over your right shoulder.
  2. “Chop down and across” your body until the ball hits the ground outside your left foot.
  3. Return to your starting position and perform three sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
  4. Lie on your back, bending your knees and keeping your feet flat on the floor.
  5. Hold the ball directly above your head and suck in your navel.
  6. Lower the ball behind you as far possible without lifting your back or bending your arms.

Perform three sets of 15 repetitions.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Every day, Phelps is in the pool at 6 a.m. for a few hours of practice, then he’s back at it in the afternoon or early evening. If you want to swim like Phelps, you have to dedicate a good chunk of your life to training.

Keep up an intense regimen and swim like the Olympians! Good luck!

Ally Henley
Ally Henley

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