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Swimmer’s hobbies: a necessary break from the pool

By Annika Hobson, Intern at Swimming World College

One of the most demanding sports, swimming requires a lot of dedication, so it can be useful to have a few hobbies to unwind after a hard day’s training. A swimmer’s primary hobby is still swimming, but additional hobbies can help a swimmer recover, improve mental health, and have fun away from the pool. Swimmers’ hobbies can range from participating in other sports, playing an instrument, cooking, and more.

Music: listen and play

Among the swimmers standing behind the block, one can always find some listening to music. Listening to music can help swimmers prepare for big races. Music can also help center a swimmer and allow them to focus on their own lane. A musical hobby can also appear outside of sports. For example, Olympian Lilly King plays classical piano music to help relieve stress. In addition, Caeleb Dressel pretends not to be the best drummer, but he has a lot of fun playing. Playing the drums allows Dressel to experiment and play with rhythms other than the beats in the pool. Two other swimmers who enjoy playing instruments are Katie Ledecky and Elizabeth Beisel. In 2018 at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles Awards, Ledecky and Beisel performed a duet. Ledecky played the piano and Beisel played the violin. For all these swimmers, music allows them to free themselves from the daily routine of swimming.


A major outing for many swimmers is returning home after a long day of swimming with their beloved pets. New 100m freestyle (SCM) world record holder, Australian Kyle Chalmers has an affinity for reptiles. On Chalmers’ Instagram, he explains on a June 6 post that “for those who don’t know, reptiles are my release & escape from the pool. They give me that distraction I need to reset and take a break. If I’m not at the pool, you can find me here (with my reptiles)!” The growth of his reptile collection provides Chalmers with a much-needed distraction from the pool and has allowed him to join a community of reptile lovers. Taking care of his reptiles gives Chalmers something to think about other than swimming.

Another example of a swimmer who likes to come home after a long day of training with a pet is Caeleb Dressel. As an American Olympian, Dressel spends a lot of time in the pool, but his dog, Jane, waits for him at home. Jane is Dressel’s faithful companion. Dressel combined her love of swimming and Jane by taking her to the pool for a run. Throughout a video of Dressel swimming with her dog, you can see Dressel smiling broadly and Jane barking happily.

To watch movies

Another great pastime for swimmers to relax and relieve stress is watching movies. Tokyo Olympian Erica Sullivan loves movies and provides movie reviews. Follow Erica’s Twitter (@erica_sully) for witty remarks and thrilling reviews of movies and TV shows. Sullivan watches movies and reviews them out of a fascination with the film industry, but it’s also a great way to unwind after a long week of brutal distance training. The next time you’re in terrible pain and tired of a big bathing suit, watch one of Erica’s recommended movies.


Sometimes swimmers can’t get too far from the water, so they embrace surfing as a fun activity. Tokyo Olympian Michael Andre currently resides in Encinitas, CA and loves to ride the waves whenever the opportunity arises. In an interview with NBC Olympics, Andrew says that when it comes to playing other sports: “Surfing is what I do the most and it helps me decompress after practice, but it also gets me working. physically.” Surfing allows Andrew to tire out other muscles and take a break from the pool. Another swimmer who loves to surf is a seven-time Olympic medalist Aaron Peirsol. Although Peirsol no longer swims competitively, his love of water remains strong through surfing and caring for the ocean.


Taking the internet by storm, Olympic diver Tom Daley showed off her favorite hobby, knitting, at the Tokyo Olympics. Daley loves to knit and has completed many projects during the Olympics. But one of his funniest projects was designing a cover for his gold medal. According to his Instagram, Daley says knitting has helped him “find calm, mindfulness and (it helps) relieve stress.” Knitting is a wonderful way to take a break from the world of competitive sports and, in the process, create something cool.

Cooking and food

A great hobby for swimmers is the love of cooking. With a cooking hobby, swimmers can ensure they are eating in a nutritious and healthy way. Natalie Coughlin12-time Olympic medalist, launched a cookbook in 2019. Her cookbook, Cooking to Thrive: Recipes to Fuel Body and Soul, demonstrates her love of cooking delicious and healthy recipes. Coughlin is just one example of a swimmer who likes to cook. After a long workout, a home-cooked meal is a perfect form of recovery for the body and a great way to relax the mind, too.

Which of these swimming hobbies are your favorite?

All comments are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine or its staff.