An interview with Steve Parry - Life in the Olympic Village

Here at Total Swimming we’re so lucky to work with Olympic athletes on a daily basis, so with Rio just around the corner we thought we’d sit down with, “The Boss”, Steve Parry and discuss what it’s like to prepare, compete and win an Olympic medal.

Steve should know better than most as he won an Olympic bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the butterfly.

In this first section of the interview we look at the prep and what it’s like inside the Olympic Village.


What was it like training for the Olympics and did it differ from other events that you trained for?

In terms of actual training we didn’t change from our normal training regime.

We were away for 20 weeks of the year. We’d do 3 – 4 weeks in South Africa in January, a camp in the US over winter time, so the lifestyle was fantastic!

But, we’d be swimming on average 70km a week and that was easier with the sun on your back but not so easy in Stockport.

We’d be doing 10 sessions of 2 hour splits during the week on top of 4 or 5 dry land sessions, weight training and conditioning.

You’d be up about 5am, train from 5:30am until 7am have some breakfast. Then you’d do gym work in the day and back in the pool at night.

The only difference in the build up to the Olympics was the intensity, your own personal intensity for every session was a lot more acute. There would be just a little more effort on every rep. You basically left no stone unturned.


What is it like inside the Olympic village?

It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s like sophisticated and upmarket student digs!

At Athens there were low rise apartment blocks where they would cram about 6 to 8 people in there. Well, actually more like 10 as we had a few of the lads sleeping in the garage.

But the atmosphere and the comradery within the village is great, there’s a real buzz to the place and all of the athletes mingle together.

I’d wake up in the morning and do my laundry with Paula Radcliffe or have lunch with Michael Phelps so it was a tad surreal as well.

Having spoken to some of the athletes the village has always been like that. Apparently Mohammad Ali mixed with all the other athletes in Atlanta.

It’s not at all glamorous though, for example the house we stayed in was absolutely empty, there were hardly any furnishings. We didn’t even have curtains!

Also you had to wait and get a packed bus to events, it was really quite tiring and not the best prep when you’re trying to swim the best time of your life.

That may be the reason that only 14% of athletes actually complete a personal best at the Olympics; just because it’s such a tough experience.