Long swims are great for improving your endurance, but try other drills for speed and form. "For me, some of the most effective drills focus on vertical kicking and underwater kicking," Phelps says. "It's painful, but very effective. Another important drill for me is sculling [a stroke in which you move your arms back and forth in small figure eights]. It really helps me maintain my feel for the water."
Get in Gear
Ramp up your pool workout by incorporating new training tools into your routine. "I use a bunch of Speedo training gear, like kickboards, pull buoys, training paddles, and snorkels," Phelps says. "I'll also listen to music during some of my longer workouts with H20 Audio's waterproof headphones."
Hit the Weights
"In preparation for Beijing, I started adding weightlifting to my dry-land work," Phelps says. "Since then, we've expanded the amount of weights I am using, and I'm running more than I ever have. Pushups and pullups have also always been essential."
Rest and Recover
The best way to benefit from your toughest workouts is to let your body fully recover before training hard again. "Sleep is also a big part of my recovery," Phelps says. "It's really important that my body gets enough rest so that I'm ready to go for my next race or training session."
Train Your Brain
Stay focused on your goals and confident in your ability. "In Beijing, when my goggles filled with water, I didn't panic," Phelps says. "I went back to all of my training. I knew how many strokes it takes me to get up and down the pool, so I started counting my strokes. I didn't reach the time I was aiming for, but I did win the race.