You know what? To me, it's an honor. People say, "You must get sick of everyone talking about your age," but it really doesn't bother me.
Not many things psych me out! [Laughs] I just try to have fun. I mean, I definitely have aches and pains that most middle-aged people have. What's funny is that I listen to music before I swim a race and while I train. And I'm surrounded by teenagerseverything is hip-hop for them. So I've really gotten into the hip-hop scene! I'll always have my classic rockthe Rolling Stones, the Doors, the Whobut I've made some other playlists with Kanye West, Rihanna, Jay-Z...
My old school of training was the heavier you lift in the weight room, the stronger you'll be in the water, but I felt like I was sinking because I had so much bulk on me. When my strength coach first came to see me, he said, "If you're using every muscle in the pool, why shouldn't you use every muscle in the weight room?" Now my core is involved and the stuff I do really elongates my body, and I don't feel so heavy in the water.
OK, the first thing is genetics. My brother and I, our body types are exactly the same: ripped abs, big arms, skinny legs. And the second thing is my training. As far as ab sets, the most I do is maybe 30 reps, but there are always some kind of rotational movements using my core while I'm working out. And I train extremely hard, so that's why my abs are so strongI use my core in almost every exercise I do.
There's so much pressure on you. How do you sleep the night before a big race?
It's called Ambien.
Oh, yeah. There are a lot of athletes who will take it if they need to fall asleep before they competebecause you're thinking about your race and you're tossing and turning. I'll take an Ambien if I'm having a really hard time going to sleep.
No, I feel pretty good. It's not like I'm doing it all the time, but it definitely helps you to conk out.
I always feel sick to my stomach before I swim. But the minute I'm on the block, everything is calm and I'm ready to go. The way I look at it is, "I've done everything I can at this point, I should just enjoy it." That takes the pressure off.
Women are going to hate hearing this, but I just have a really good metabolism. So did my mom. I used to take advantage of that and eat whatever I wanted. It's different now. This is my last Olympics and I need to give it 100 percent. But I told myself that this summerwhen I'm done training for goodI'm going to go back to drinking Coke Slurpees.
Oh yeah. And in my cycle, absolutely. I just got it a few days ago, and I was like "Why is my stomach so bloated? Oh, hello." Other people may not see it, but I do. That's the other thing that's interestingworking with a naturopathic doctor, I know that there are certain times in my cycle where my hormones are so low that if I train hard, it will take me forever to recover. So I actually have to let my nice 30-something male coach know so he doesn't train me hard during those times.
No. I wrote about it in my book because I wanted people to know me and not just, "I'm first place." I had such a fear of food for so long, but I finally got over it.
Probably being in the sun too much. I take my dog, Scarlett, to the beach on Sundays, and I'm in the sun every day anyway with my training. I never go outside before I'm going to swim in a meet.
Constantly! [Laughs] It's just in my makeup. It doesn't matter if it's in the pool or in a parking lot, I always have to be firstit's ridiculous. I have bets with friends all the time. I just have to win. I'm hoping when I hang up my suit to dry this summer that it will go away.
I don't think I have to prove anything anymore. It's just the fact that I love challenges, and this is a huge one I'm taking onmuch more so than four years ago. My coach and I had spoken about taking on this challenge before he passed away, and I want to finish what we talked about. Plus, the fact that so many people come up to me and say I inspire them really gets me going. I want to still give people hope that they can do the things that they thought, maybe, they couldn't do.