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The Mental Aspects of Peak Athletic Performance (Part 1)

By June 1, 2014January 18th, 20243 Comments

When I use the word “best” in reference to my guests, I mean it.

Today’s guest truly earns the adjective.  If you follow the sport of competitive swimming, then this woman needs no introduction. Quite simply put, Rebecca Soni is one of the most accomplished athletes in the world, period. Here are just a few of her notables:

  • 2-time Olympian (2008 / 2012)
  • 6-time Olympic medalist
  • Multiple world record holder
  • 1st woman to earn back to back Olympic Gold Medals in the 200-meter breaststroke
  • Broke the World Record in the 200-meter breaststroke in consecutive Olympiads (2008 / 2012)
  • First woman in history to break the 2:20 barrier in the 200-meter breaststroke
  • 6-time NCAA Champion at USC
  • 2x “World Swimmer Of The Year” (2010 & 2011)

In other words, don’t mess with Reb. But meet her on the street and you’d never know just how badass she is — her sweetNESS and genuine humility simply won’t allow it.

If you know me, you know swimming is my first love. So anytime I get the chance to talk on the subject, it’s going to be long — sorry just can’t help it.  This conversation holds true, running at around 2 ½ hours. So I’m breaking the interview up into 2 parts.  Part 1 today (Sunday night — 6.1.14); Part 2 will post sometime Thursday — 6.5.14.

Good stuff. A compelling journey through the the ups and downs of Rebecca’s unparalleled career, we dig deep into:

  • The mental aspects of peak performance, including Rebecca’s personal struggles;
  • Rebecca’s early years as a young swimmer in New Jersey raised by Hungarian immigrants;
  • The important role of coaches have played in her career;
  • Social media pressures on the global Olympic stage;
  • Her perspective on being a positive role model for young women;
  • Her evolving perspective on nutrition & new found embrace of the plant-based lifestyle;
  • The performance impacts of different modalities of training (volume vs. intensity);
  • Her transition from celebrity athlete to civilian retirement; and
  • Atlas Ventures– Rebecca’s start up with fellow Olympian  Ariana Kukors devoted to “brain training” the next generation of champion athletes.

“Legend” is a word that gets bandied about all too loosely these days.  But Rebecca more than earns the mantle and the respect the term truly deserves. She is a legend in the truest sense and her legacy in sport will more than stand the test of time.

Plus, she’s super cool. After the show she hung out at our house with my kids and her dog Cody (you can hear him hanging around the pod in the background), let us play around with her gold medals and was basically just a delight.

It was an honor to spend a few hours with her and couldn’t be more pleased to bring this conversation to you.  I sincerely hope you enjoy it!

Peace + Plants,


PS – Here’s my friend John Brenkus of ESPN’s Sports Science breaking down just what makes Rebecca’s breaststroke technique so, well, unique:


Connect With Rebecca Soni:  Website  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

I might have been a little too excited about this

I might have been a little too excited about this


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  • Tim Harrell says:

    That’s pretty cool. I don’t think you could be Too excited about wearing an olympic gold medal!

  • Weltensammler says:

    This podcast is the best thing that happened to me lately. In some weird way I think I found people like myself here. Thanks for the content. Don’t stress about the haters and keep meditating.

  • Coach Ann Holmes says:

    Really, really, really enjoyed this guest (and her second part). I work with a lot of high performance athletes – not Olympians (yet, but they are getting there) and everything she said resonated with me in my coaching practice! This was very affirming. Loved hearing her speak about her experiences! Thanks.

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