The Road Ahead to the Olympic Games
Champion athletes know what it takes to build success: a lifetime of determination and training, countless competitions, years of fueling their bodies with the right foods and beverages and unwavering support from coaches, family and friends.
However, what is the roadmap for a pandemic that defers a dream to be part of Team USA at the Olympic Games?
That is what we ask champion swimmer Gabby DeLoof, a Grosse Pointe, MI, native and former University of Michigan swimmer. Gabby’s resume includes five-time Big Ten champion, five-time NCAA All-American, a team captain, and a 2018 Pan Pacific Championships qualifier. In addition, she participated in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and recently won five gold medals in the World University games. Gabby was in full training mode for the 2020 Olympic Games, which have now been postponed to July 2021.
Gabby now lives and trains in San Diego, California. Although her training schedule looks different now, a well-balanced diet that includes milk is still key to her routine.
Milk Means More: First, we are sorry that your dreams to attend the Olympic Games are deferred for a year. How are you feeling about that turn of events?
Gabby: Thank you. I have taken this time to reflect on what is important to me and my swimming career. Staying safe and healthy is always a primary concern. I have taken this time to get better on things outside of the water, including shoulder rehab, boxing and trying new workouts. I am happy that the Olympics were postponed for the safety and wellbeing of everyone across the world.
MMM: What does your training schedule look like now? How will you use this extra time until next year’s Olympic trials?
Gabby: Right now training has been focused on a lot of dryland activities. I have been spinning, walking, doing HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training] workouts, boxing, Pilates…really whatever I am in the mood for that day but I am moving my body every day! During this extra time, I am able to focus on my nutrition and health as well as fixing the details that I did not have as much time to focus on during full-time training.
MMM: At the level you are competing, how do you find the extra edge that helps get you ahead?
Gabby: You have to examine and fine-tune every little thing when your competition is the best of the best! Something I really focus on is using food for fuel. If you fail to put nutrient-rich foods in your body, you won’t be able to compete at a high level. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy and whole grains are the focus of what I eat, and I carry a water bottle everywhere I go. Milk and water both help keep me hydrated in and out of the pool.
MMM: Is hydration as important for a swimmer as it is for, say, a runner or cyclist? Do you really sweat as much?
Gabby: It’s absolutely as important! Swimmers train hard both in the pool and in the weight room. Our bodies loose fluid during both types of training and we need to replace it. I like to spread out my fluid intake throughout the day and I drink mainly water and milk. Milk is not only a fluid, of course, but also has nutrients that my body needs, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per cup.
(Editor’s note: Milk is shown to be more hydrating that water due to the naturally occurring carbohydrates and electrolytes)
MMM: Where did you get your nutrition knowledge?
Gabby: I was very fortunate to grow up in a family that values nutrition. In fact, milk at meals was essential at the table for my sisters and me. I’ve always liked the taste of milk and I now know that it contains nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein and B vitamins that my body needs. And at U of M, there was a great team of registered sports dietitians who taught us how to eat as athletes, for both fueling and recovery. They were a key part of the team.
MMM: We can’t wait to see you continue competing and getting ready for the 2021 Summer Olympic swim trials next year!
Gabby: Thanks! You know Michigan will always hold a special place in my heart!