Name: Tom Dart in Austin
Date registered: February 17, 2017
- Loneliness, isolation and pressure: the inner demons of elite swimming — February 17, 2017
It’s requires a particular brand of mental constitution to thrive in a sport where the world only sits up and takes notice once every four years
After each Olympics, golfers, tennis players and footballers return to their usual schedules, performing in front of vast and adoring crowds and often earning handsome sums. Swimmers, meanwhile, return to relative, or actual, obscurity after a few weeks among the world’s most scrutinised athletes – unless their personal problems or indiscretions become public knowledge, that is.
Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, struggled with alcohol and went into rehab after two DUI arrests. Ryan Lochte’s 2016 went from a gold in the pool in Rio to a gas-station “robbery” scandal to a 10-month suspension to elimination in week eight of Dancing With The Stars. Ian Thorpe wrote a 2012 autobiography detailing his struggles with depression, while other Australian swimmers have ended up in prison or become mixed up in drugs. Whether this is due to the rigors of swimming is a moot point, but how much of a toll does the sport take on its athletes?
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/17/olympic-swimming-loneliness-isolation-pressure-inner-demons