Katie Ledecky reveals rituals that helped her snatch 4 medals at Tokyo Olympics


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The day before decisive races, including those of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Katie Ledecky participates in a ritual that puts her in the right space to compete – and that involves many body hair.

“We’re having a little shaving party,” says the 24-year-old swimmer Shape with a laugh. “I mean, we shave regularly like everyone else, but for big competitions, we even shave our arms, and some people shave their backs. I don’t do that, but I do my legs and arms. “

This tradition of complete defusing might seem a bit silly to a stranger, but Ledecky explains that it signals the brain it’s time to go. “We all do this to feel good in the water, reduce drag, and feel silky smooth and really good in the pool,” says Ledecky, who uses a BIC Soleil Sensitive advanced razor (Buy it, $ 6 , amazon.com) to get the job done. “When you take a dip in the pool after doing this, you just know it’s time to run and be at your best.” (Related: Why Not Shaving My Legs In High School Helped Me Love My Body Now)

It may not be entirely mental either. A 1989 study of 18 varsity swimmers found that athletes with shaved arms, legs and torso experienced significantly less drag when pushing underwater than their unshaven counterparts. In addition, a 1992 study of five competitive swimmers found that shaving the hairs increased their distance per stroke by 5%. (Related: The 9 Best Electric Shavers That Make Shaving Less Painful)

Of course, Ledecky doesn’t just rely on a smooth feeling to increase his medal count, which currently stands at 10 Olympic medals and 18 world championship medals; the swimmer has a holistic toolkit that prepares her for record success. For example, getting enough sleep each day, whether it’s going to bed early or taking midday naps, is a crucial part of her recovery process – so much so that Ledecky says she wears an Oura ring ( Buy her, $ 299, goop. Com) to make sure she gets enough sleep. During training camps and meetups, the swimmer says she also receives treatments from massage therapists and uses Normatec massage guns and compression equipment, designed to increase circulation and minimize muscle fatigue. And after every workout and before it’s time to get hay, Ledecky says she’s taking a shower to relax. (Wait, should you take a hot or cold shower after a workout?)

“We feel like we’re doing everything we can to be our best, from the shave and the work we’ve done over the past five years, to recovery, sleep and nutrition. All of it adds up. really to the performance, ”says Ledecky.“ And you know, if you take a piece out of it, you don’t know how that might affect your performance, so I’m trying to stick to a pretty good routine with all of that stuff. . “

Equally important is a balanced training program. Each week Ledecky swims 10 times, with Sunday being her only full day of rest. Three days a week, she will also perform a strength training session in the gym, relying on squats, deadlifts, barbell pull-ups, pull-ups and more to build muscles and the power of his arms, legs and trunk. “It’s pretty comprehensive because that’s what swimming is,” says Ledecky. “I think core strength is incredibly important in swimming – it’s that connecting piece between your arms and legs. So we work on strength and we work on power because you have to have that power coming out of the legs. starting blocks and in all the turns, as well as a good jump. “

In the hours leading up to a competition, Ledecky warms up the body with easy swimming, kicking and pulling exercises, and heart rate work – a routine that feels pretty similar no matter what event she’s in, she explains. However, the pace of work she does just before an event depends on the distance she will cover, whether it is 200 meters or 1,500 meters, she says. “These pace times are a bit different for each race, so it’s important to hit the ones in the warm-up to remind yourself what that pace looks like so that when you hit the water for the race, you know what pace you are. install, ”says Ledecky.

And at first glance, Ledecky’s proven strategies paid off at the Tokyo Games, where she won two silver and two gold, including one in the first-ever women’s 1,500-meter swim race. free from the Olympics. (FTR, it’s about a mile long.) “It was really cool to know that we were making history as the first to compete in this event at the Olympics, and Team USA wanted to start on a very good mark in this event and it could not have gone better, ”said Ledecky, a medalist alongside her teammate Erica Sullivan, who won silver.

Once the initial high has worn off and she has spent some well-deserved time with friends and family on the East Coast, Ledecky says she plans to get back to work and design her roadmap for win a place at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. “It’s never a guarantee that you’ll make the team or anything like that, so I know it will take a lot of hard work and a lot of preparation to get there,” she explains. But with three Olympics under his belt and a reliable game plan so far, Ledecky’s future looks bright – and silky, too.

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