Given the countless hours in the pool and at the gym while also attending to the mind and body every spare minute in between, the life of a professional swimmer is a daily grind that ultimately carries the athlete along his or her journey to greatness.
Any swimmer, elite or amateur, can attest to how difficult our sport is, not only regularly testing our mental fortitude, but also forcing virtually every muscle in our bodies to be engaged with every stroke. But swimmers aren’t alone. Wrestlers, track athletes, football players, UFC fighters – they all throw their hearts and souls into training in order to perform at the right time.
In a sort of recognition for the dedication and effort involved in athletic pursuits, Sports Illustrated has created its annual list of the ‘Most Fit Athletes in Sports’.
Consisting of a separate men’s and a women’s list, the line-up was determined with the help of a panel of trainers, exercise physiologists and performance experts based on athletes’ performances over the last 12 months. Per SI, athletes were also elected based on the demands and risks of their respective sports; durability; training regimens; and other physical criteria including power, speed, strength, agility, endurance, flexibility and more.
Arriving at #22 on the list of 25 men is American Record holder and multiple World Championships gold medalist Caeleb Dressel. Described as training ‘like a missile’ Dressel is praised for his ‘explosive power’ of the blocks, with SI adding ‘Dressel has mastered the art of building strength without adding too much muscle mass or bulk.’
The women’s list also includes notable aquatic athletes, including #21 on the list, Maggie Stephens of U.S. Water Polo. Owning two Olympic gold medals, along with three NCAA titles at Stanford, Stephens’ training out of the pool includes CrossFit and beach workouts.
Even higher up is #6, Katie Ledecky, who ranks above skiers Mikaela Shriffin and Lindsey Vonn, Tennis pro Serena Williams and UFC fighter Amanda Nunes. SI calls the multiple Olympic gold medalist ‘the world’s most dominant female swimmer’ and highlights her 5 medal run at the Pan Pacific Championships, as well as the fact that she broke another World Record in 2018.
You can read the entire list of athletes, as well as get more in-depth views into ranking criteria, here.