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  • Jan

    The Training Arena - Q&A with Claire Donahue

    The latest installment of our series about training features Arena athlete Claire Donahue, who is also a regular on the Fitter & Faster Tour Presented by and appears in the Swim Like a Champion DVD series.

    Leave a question or comment for Claire below, and you will be entered to win the Swim Like a Champion – Butterfly DVD featuring Claire.

    1) We all know getting in the pool can be a struggle some days, what keeps you motivated on days like this?

    During this time of the year, I have a lot of practice and most of them are very hard. On the hardest days, it's extremely challenging to stay motivated. A lot of what I've done recently to help me get through practices is to focus on my mental game. If I start thinking about 'how hard this practice is' and 'how it's only Monday' I start to spiral down and will usually do poorly at practice. However, when I focus strictly on my technique and what I need to be doing to go fast, I tend to swim a lot better. Even when I have a bad week, month, & sometime year I stay motivated by staying positive. It's not easy, but the more practice I have, the better I get. I try to enjoy the people I'm around, learn something from the practice I'm doing, and have fun at the new places I get to go to. Enjoy the journey!

    2) What does the inside of your swim bag look like- do you have a favorite practice suit, type of goggle, or training accessory?

    My swim bag can be pretty chaotic. I try to keep it organized but by the end of the day it's a mess. I always have my favorite pair of Arena Pure Mirror Goggles, WKU swim cap, and the most important thing of all my Arena Carioca Challenge Back Suit (I have two of them-different colors). I make sure I pack my favorite after workout snack: peanut butter & jelly sandwich and chocolate milk. All put into my Arena Fastpack.

    3) What do you do to stay in shape outside of the water?

    Swimming isn't the only type of workout I do. I actually do quite a bit out of the water. I lift weights three times a week; it usually takes an hour each time. I run three miles, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I do yoga at least once a week. Flexibility is a huge part of my training now. I also make sure I stretch before and after every workout. And everyday I do at least 10 minutes of abdominal work. I've learned that all of these things are a big factor in helping me stay in shape and perform well.

    4) Talk about any pre-meet rituals. Do you have a favorite food, song, or stretch that you do prior to a big race day?

    I don't have too many pre-meet rituals. Spaghetti and meatballs is my favorite food. Before I leave for a meet weekend I make sure and make a nice healthy meal: usually salad, spaghetti, and finish it off with a smoothie.

    5) Share with us your 2012 Olympics experience in London. What was a key component in your training to get you there?

    The Olympics in London were like nothing I've ever experienced before. Everything was so big and so amazing. It was like walking through a fairytale. The whole U.S. Olympic Swim Team flew over together, and we were all so excited. When we got to the Olympic Village (where all the athletes stayed), I was wide-eyed and running around. Just on the first day I saw the dorms, the pool, the cafeteria, everything, and it was incredible. The cafeteria alone was huge. When we went to the pool, I couldn't believe it. It fit over 17,000 people.

    My mental attitude is a huge part in what helped me to get to the Olympic Finals in the 100 Butterfly, but that wasn't the only thing. The key was actually realizing all the parts to being successful and how important they all were. Everything adds up very quickly and I made sure I did all those components and then some. I very rarely miss practices, even if I am sick. I get to workout early and leave late, doing extra, stretching, and asking questions. I do things I'm not asked to do like eating healthy and running to help stay in shape. I am constantly trying to find ways to get better.

    6) Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years, what are your goals?

    My Future Goals:
    2014 – Top 3 at the Pan-Pacific Championships (3rd in the World)
    2015 – First World Title!
    2016 – Make my 2nd Olympic Team in two events & 2 Olympic Gold Medals (100 fly/relay)!

    Remember to leave a question or comment for Claire below, and you will be entered to win the Swim Like a Champion – Butterfly DVD featuring Claire.


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    5 months ago.
    Thanks for sharing! What's your favorite strength training exercise for swimming?
    Cassie Lockhart
    6 months ago.
    What do you do before you go up for an event to calm your nerves???
    Emily Dutzer
    6 months ago.
    What is your best advice for a novice competitive swimmer?
    Kylie Salerno
    6 months ago.
    The fly is my best stroke but sometimes my turns are off. I was wondering how do you do such amazing turns?
    6 months ago.
    what is the best way to teach a young swimmer butterfly?
    6 months ago.
    You rock ...good luck
    love to have the dvd
    Steve Pupillo
    6 months ago.
    Thanks for the tips!
    steve Fox
    6 months ago.
    I would buy from you if you offered Shipping with the US post office for customeres outside the 48 states.
    6 months ago.
    Swim to win!!!
    Victoria Rogers
    6 months ago.
    Have you trained at the Olympic Training Facilities?
    6 months ago.
    Awesome job...keep up the good work!
    6 months ago.
    So inspiring. I will be sharing this with my 11 yr old daughter who is just in her first year of competing.
    Shannon Reed
    6 months ago.
    I love how you express the importance of staying positive and going above and beyond what is expected! If it were easy anyone could do it! You can do extraordinary things through extra hard work, a positive attitude, and dreaming BIG!
    Michelle McCurdy
    6 months ago.
    Thank you! Thanks for the motivation tips!
    Michelle McCurdy
    6 months ago.
    Thank you! I liked reading about what motivates you on a slow day!
    6 months ago.
    My 8 year old daughters favourite stroke is the fly so reading your blog inspires her and lets her know that anything is possible. Thanks!
    6 months ago.
    This is great info for anyone trying to compete at swimming. Thanks so much!
    Shannon R.
    6 months ago.
    As a busy swim mom of 3 young USA swimmers I read everything I can and love Q&A's. Learning what you pro's do inspires my 9 y.o. son, who wants to be an Olympic swimmer!
    Can't wait for summer Olympics
    Cassie Lockhart
    6 months ago.
    What is your absulote worst favorite stroke or drill to do during practice??
    6 months ago.
    Great interview questions. Thanks
    For sharing, I especially liked what's in the swim bag.
    Roxana V. Fabiani
    6 months ago.
    Claire, after the London Olympics you and the girls inspired me to take up swimming again and not to make anymore excuses for myself! I'm happy to say I signed up at the gym to do Aqua Fit in the evenings; afterwards I practice my laps. I have to say, it felt good to swim again and I feel myself getting stronger. Thank you Claire! Keep up the good work and win Gold for us in the years to come!!!
    Roxanne Fabiani
    6 months ago.
    Claire, after the London Olympics you and the girls inspired me to take up swimming again and not to make anymore excuses for myself! I'm happy to say I signed up at the gym to do Aqua Fit in the evenings;afterwards I practice my laps. I have to say, it felt good to swim again and I feel myself getting stronger. Thank you Claire! Keep up the good work and win Gold for us in the years to come!!!
    Claire Donahue
    6 months ago.
    Roxanne, I absolutely love your story. It's great hearing about people getting in the water for exercise. Thank you so much for sharing! Good luck!
    Kathryn Poston
    6 months ago.
    You are awesome! Thanks for sharing. I would love to have this DVD!
    Monique smulders
    6 months ago.
    Like the attitude to do everything to get better. Great example for the kids. I coach a swim team and always try ways to motivate them. Good luck to you and keep up the good work!!! Ps have you ever tried a " core power " drink for recovery? I would like to hear your input on that. It's the official protein recovery drink for the olympic team this year. Check out the website
    Nathan Zylla
    6 months ago.
    Do you use extra training items. Like double suiting or ankle weights and how often?
    What is considered over training for you?
    Claire Donahue
    6 months ago.
    Nathan, this is a great question. Just by what you wrote I can tell you are very motivated. I've used things like double suiting, ankle weights, Parachute, monofin, pulling & kicking equipment & resistant weight. Sometimes we swim with t-shirts or tennis shoes. I've used all these things before, but the one I use most often, now, are parachutes & monofin. I use them usually 2 times per week. We do a set of 25's starting with the most resistance and ending with least resistance.

    When it comes to over training, that is a tough question because it's so hard to gauge. For me, I try to push my body as much as possible. I've never had an issue with overtraining, mainly because my coach at Western Kentucky knows when to take it down a notch. In my opinion overtraining doesn't happen too often. I've only heard of one person that's over trained before. The best thing is to know your body.
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