Pro athlete -- and pro napper

Olympian Allison Schmitt won five medals in London in 2012, and is now training intensely with an eye to Rio in 2016. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I enjoyed some racing (and vitamin D!) at the outdoor pool at the Mesa Grand Prix last week in Arizona. It was a great opportunity to see where I’m at at this early point in the season, and I was very pleased with my results (a win in the 100-meter freestyle and second in the 200-meter free).

But I know there’s still a lot of room for improvement and I’m already back training hard for the next meet. My typical training day is a mix of swimming, sleep and eating. The “highlights” of a regular day in the life of a pro swimmer:

Up and at ’em. I wake up around 6:13 to 6:17 a.m. Why? I like being unique, and it gives me the most possible sleep I can have because I have to be at practice by 6:40. I grab a snack to eat in the car (usually a bar or a banana).

Swim, sleep, repeat. We swim from 7 to 8:45 a.m., then do dry-land exercises or weights from 9 to 10. I go home and eat a big breakfast, take a three-hour nap, have a snack for lunch and head back for practice number two.

The not-so-rigorous part. After the second practice, I come back home, lie around until I’m hungry, have dinner, then lie around some more. Pretty glamorous, huh? You may not have known that being a pro athlete comes with the title “professional napper,” as well. Sleeping seems to be a huge part of my day because it’s the quickest way for me to try and recover fast enough for the next practice. I’m lucky I can sleep anywhere -- I have slept on a bench at an amusement park when necessary!

The (little bit of) downtime. I try to take it all day by day and not worry about the future. I just go swim, and then go on with my day not overthinking how the last practice went or what the next practice will be. A lot of my friends in Baltimore are swimmers, so they get it. Luckily we all live close so it’s fun to hang out, go to dinner, or go shopping. We love shopping, of course.

Then fueling up to do it again. As soon as I started training full time again this winter I had to eat so much more. My muscles were hurting and I was hungry nonstop. I eat a lot, but I definitely have to watch what I eat and make sure I eat healthy foods that will help fuel me. My main go-to foods:

1. Oatmeal. After our first workout I’ll start with a big-size bowl of oatmeal with berries (usually blackberries, but any will do!) and Special K... to add a little Michigan (my home) to my breakfast. If I’m hungry, I’ll up the ante with yogurt, more fruit or, if I’m really hungry, eggs.

2. Cottage cheese. It has a lot of protein, which is important for recovery between sessions. I like to dip vegetables or pretzels in it.

3. Fruits and vegetables. I love carrots, broccoli, bananas and grapes. When you have to eat a lot, you want it to be good stuff!

4. Pasta or chicken. By the end of the day I don’t have a lot of energy left, and pasta and chicken are both really easy things to make for dinner.

5. Chocolate milk. I think it’s great for recovery after a hard practice. Plus, who doesn’t like chocolate milk?

Allison Schmitt's previous blog