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Olympian Caroline Burckle On The Power Of Vulnerability

By December 14, 2020January 16th, 2024No Comments
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Episode #565



Becoming an Olympic medalist doesn’t tell the story. It wasn’t until the klieg lights dimmed that she was compelled to meet herself. The inner journey that ensued forged the amazing person she’s now become.

Meet Caroline Burckle. Friends call her Burks.

A fellow former competitive swimmer, today’s guest is a 23-time All American and 2-time NCAA Champion. In 2008, she was crowned NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year in recognition of breaking Janet Evans’ legendary 500 freestyle NCAA record—a seemingly impossible task and the oldest record on the books at the time. Later that same year, Caroline would qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she won bronze as a member of the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay.

More interesting however, and certainly more relatable, is Caroline’s path post-swimming. A close cousin to my conversations with Olympians Anthony Ervin, Apolo Ohno and John Moffet, hers is a hard-wrought journey of self-discovery shrouded in institutional neglect and even, at times, abuse. Let’s just say she weathered some shit. But she faced it. She showed up and did the work. And she emerged at peace with her past and her self—now hellbent on helping forge healthier lives for the next generation of Olympians.

“My mission is to create a space where people can be themselves and heal their minds and bodies together. It’s possible.”


Beyond the play-by-play of  Caroline’s storied career, her experiences as a young swimmer, and what it was like to stand on the Olympic podium, this is a conversation about the psychological struggles she faced as a prodigious athlete. Her battle with depression. And her familiar addiction to people-pleasing.

It’s also an alarming exposé on the harmful paradigms perpetuated by calcified athletic institutions—and what we must be done to better support the next generation of Olympians.

But more than anything, this is a playbook on how to find power in vulnerability. How to listen to your body. And most importantly, how to use your voice.

One of my very favorite people, Burks and I are buddies going back several years. A powerhouse and a humble empath, her energy is infectious. And I’m honored to share her story with you today.

The visually inclined can watch our exchange on YouTube. And as always, the podcast streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

May her words inspire you to seek own your truth. To ask for help. Lean into vulnerability. And never stop learning.

P.S. Links to a comprehensive collection of news coverage specific to the sensitive events discussed in this episode can be found in the show notes below.

Peace + Plants,

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