How to Become an Olympic Swimmer

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To become an Olympic swimmer, an athlete must dedicate years of his or her life to training, eating a nutritious diet, and traveling to swim meets. Qualifying as an Olympic swimmer requires winning or placing in the top few spots of select swim meets, which are held in international locations every few years. The work of qualifying for the Olympic team often begins years or even decades before the actual games are held, so hopeful Olympic swimmers must be committed to competing in the games in order to make the team.

Wikimedia Commons: Gary Bembridge
Education No formal education required
Starting pay Prize money varies by country
Median pay Prize money varies by country
10 yr growth Slower than average
Related professions Olympic athlete, lifeguard
Author Selena Robinson

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Olympic Swimmer Job Overview

Olympic swimmers compete in swimming heats and finals during the Summer Olympic Games, which are held every four years. In 2016, the Olympic Games are scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During the preliminary rounds, athletes compete for spots in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Those who make it to the finals have the chance to compete for gold, silver, or bronze medals for their home countries.[1] Olympic swimming events include the 100 meter backstroke, the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay, the 200 meter butterfly, the 200 meter breaststroke, and the 50 kilometer marathon.[2]

Olympic Swimmer Education

There is no formal education requirement for Olympic swimmers. Some complete a high school diploma, while others may go on to pursue a college or university education. However, most swimmers begin training seriously during high school. At junior, high school, and college competitions, meets are divided by age group, which allows swimmers to compete against others near their skill levels.[3]

Olympic Swimmer Training

Part of training for Olympic swimmers involves learning how to swim in an Olympic-regulation pool. Olympic pools are three meters deep, which requires athletes to control their swimming depth throughout a competition.[1] As part of their training, swimmers must follow a healthy eating regimen. They often begin these healthy eating habits during adolescence to improve their endurance and strength.[4]

Olympic Swimming Trials

To make it onto the national Olympic team, swimmers must complete at the Olympic swimming trials. These competitions are generally held six weeks before the start of the Olympic Games, and feature the top swimmers in the country at the time. In 2012, the Olympic swimming trials for the U.S. team were held in Omaha, Nebraska in June. Athletes who qualified for the team traveled to represent the U.S. at the London Olympics in August of the same year.[5]

2008 Men's Olympic Swimming Freestyle Relay

The final from the 2008 Men's Swimming 4x100 freestyle relay at the Beijing Olympics

Also See: How to Become an Olympic Athlete, How to Become an Olympic Coach, How to Become an Olympic Speed Skater, How to Become an Olympic Figure Skater


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