Being an NCAA Division I Athlete While Eating a Vegan Diet

In the SwimSwam Podcast dive deeper into the sport you love with insider conversations about swimming. Hosted by Coleman HodgesGarrett McCaffrey, and Gold Medal Mel Stewart, SwimSwam welcomes both the biggest names in swimming that you already know, and rising stars that you need to get to know, as we break down the past, present, and future of aquatic sports.

We sat down with Ohio State’s Aislinn Walsh, who has been eating a vegan diet for the better part of a year now. Aislinn first adopted the diet during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and found that once she returned to full-time training in the fall, she was able to recover quicker between practices. This prompted her to stick with the vegan diet and starting her meal Instagram, @craisycupofcoffee. Aislinn shares all of her recipes on her account for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and more. She gives lots of plant-based substitutes for swimmer favorites like burgers, pasta, and grilled cheese.


Music: Otis McDonald


Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

I haven’t seen a recipe with a meat protein incorporated in it yet. Maybe I missed it but it seems like this site leans vegan.

Reply to  Coach
1 year ago

Maybe you missed it.

And also, this series:

This site has no formal opinion on vegan vs. keto vs. vegetarian vs. fasting vs. anything else, as this site’s owners are not nutritionists. Instead, we try to provide information for all of the varying diets that our audience might have, with as much input from experts in those fields as we can get.

please & thank you
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Come on Braden. This site supports ‘practice and pancakes’. Easy.

1 year ago

I tried vegan with a teammate for a month in college. After a week we were significantly more fatigued after practice and more sore from lifting. After a month we were pushing 1-2 sec slower on pace 50’s. We made sure to supplement with protein and iron as suggested by our nutritionist. Took a few weeks to regain strength and speed.
No doubt there’s clear benefits for the average person trying to lose weight/balance hormones, but like we saw with MA’s keto stint, it can’t sustain a high performance training program. Would not recommend trying this; if you do, you must work closely with a sports nutritionist or dietician.

Reply to  Deepblue
1 year ago

Would not recommend trying this; if you do, you must work closely with a sports nutritionist or dietician.”

This is the biggest takeaway. If you are a high level athlete and are drastically changing the types of food you eat, for whatever reason, you need to work with a nutritionist to make sure your dietary needs are being met.

The Screaming Viking!
Reply to  Deepblue
1 year ago

Keto + swimming is tricky, mostly because of the volume of exercise. I had great success with it but partly because I couldn’t fit that much training into my schedule. I always had extra time to recover that I wouldn’t have had back in the 90’s.

When you train the way swimmers do, our bodies are going to refuel glycogen somehow, even if you eat zero carbs. It takes a lot longer to do that from protein and fat, so even MA would have benefited from some carb cycling.

Metabolic flexibility is the goal. Focusing on high carb and low fat harms metabolic flexibity eventually by diminishing our ability to metabolize fat for energy efficiently. That goes the… Read more »

1 year ago

Important to remember a consistent diet is key – whatever it may be. If all you eat are chips throughout your training, you should only eat chips leading up to your meets. So many people change their diets at the last second before big meets, but I’m 90% that is proven to only hurt you.

Reply to  Thomas
1 year ago

The same is said about sleep.

1 year ago

so privileged to be able to afford vegan food.

Big Kicker
Reply to  Yanni
1 year ago

You ever tried to buy meat? Not cheap dude

The Screaming Viking!
Reply to  Big Kicker
1 year ago

Hamburger and eggs aren’t expensive.

1 year ago

To long didn’t listen…

Does she supplement protein and iron at all?

In college I found it hard to get enough protein – meat was limited at dining halls and expensive to buy steaks. I had a habit of performing better on away trips where we got to eat the night. Usually we would go some kind buffet and I would load up on pot roast and cheap steaks in available.

In my 30s I do tend to eat more like she describes, less bloating and my pants fit better.

Reply to  Xman
1 year ago

So much misinformation for athletes around protein. Your body can only process so much at once. Worry about macros… what percent of your calories come with protein. Chugging protein powder or eating two steaks immediately after exercising isnt necessary or helpful or backed by science. Vegan diets can provide plenty of protein.

I agree on iron. And certain vitamins.

Reply to  Penguin
1 year ago

From what I can tell (and my experience), the jron issue is a bit of a misconception. For a reasonable survey of information:

1 year ago

Vegan is a conscientious diet for some and it is also the new anorexia for some

Reply to  Ugh
1 year ago


Reply to  Ugh
1 year ago

Wow a valid middle of the road post. Kudos

1 year ago

Please don’t promote restrictive eating.

1 year ago

Eat meat, get ripped.

Last edited 1 year ago by Covidmane
Col. Trautman
Reply to  Covidmane
1 year ago

You misspelled ‘ripped’. It’s spelled a-t-h-e-r-o-s-c-l-e-r-o-s-i-s.

The Screaming Viking!
Reply to  Col. Trautman
1 year ago

That’s not really how atherosclerosis works. Lol. If you avoid meat to avoid heart disease you are gullible.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

Read More »