Femke Heemskerk is one of the most successful Dutch swimmers in history. A few of her many great achievements are an Olympic gold and silver medal and her individual world title in the 100 freestyle in 2014. She's known for her incredible work ethic in training and eye for excellence. We sat down with Femke and asked her 10 burning questions (and 10 of her 'favorites')

What do you love most about training?
I didn’t realize this from the beginning, but I guess what I love most besides getting better by training is to be totally by myself for some hours. When you swim you can’t talk, you can’t be on your phone, there is no music, no distractions. It’s just you and your mind. Even when I feel bad, I feel better when I go for a swim.

What do you like the least?
Because my training routine takes up a lot of hours every day, I sometimes miss the freedom of doing social activities with the people I love. Besides training and racing, you also have to have a structured lifestyle, so there’s less room for spontaneity with friends. But besides that, I’m very lucky that I do what I do, that I love to train and lead the lifestyle of a professional athlete. 

How does a typical training day look like for you?
Since my days are quite structured, I’ll share my daily schedule:

 6:30    Wake -up and breakfast (mostly oatmeal)
 7:30    30 minutes shoulder strengthening  exercises to prevent injuries
 8:00    30 minutes of Dryland (functional & core training)
 8:30     2 hours of swimming
10:30    90 minutes of strength training in the weight room
12:00    Lunchtime (I’m sooo hungry!)
13:00     Naptime, recovery is the most important training session
16:30    20 minutes of shoulder strengthening  exercises (again)
17:00    2 hours of swimming 
19:00    Hungry again!!!! ;-)
21:30    Bedtime

What is your favorite type of training and why?
I like sessions with a medium/high intensity. Just love to work hard and feel fulfilled after the session. And I like to kick because I’m good at it… #guilty 

Hardest swimming set you have ever done?
Oofff… probably all the sets I did in France in preparation of the Rio Olympics. Like a 20 x 200 starting every 2:30 minutes (long course). Or a 7x 200 max pace off the blocks for time. Sets with very short resting intervals are very challenging for me. 

What is your routine when it comes to nutrition and hydration during training?
Depending on the set I’m doing I will either drink water with electrolytes on easy and moderate days. On hard days I drink water mixed with a carbohydrate powder supplement. After every session I drink a shake with protein for a quick and good recovery. Hydration (and diet) is key for maximum training results, so always bring your drinking bottle to the pool.

How often do you practice your drills?
Every. Single. Session.

Favorite piece of equipment?
The Pull-Kick from Speedo 

Do you ever NOT feel like training? (if so, how do you handle it? If not, what is your secret?)
Of course I have those days, but they don’t happen very often. It’s mostly when I’m very tired that I don’t feel like training. I just don’t think about it, I know when I dive in the pool I’m good to go and enjoying the session. Getting out of bed and the travel to the pool can be a real struggle on those days. So accept you’re tired and just train. You always feel better after the session than when you just woke up! Trust me on this ;-)

What is the best advice you have ever gotten when it comes to training?
Listen to your body. You know so well what to do when you dare to honestly listen to your body.


Femke's Favorite...

moment in her swimming career: Olympic Gold Medal Race in Beijing 2008

moment in swimming history: Inge de Bruijn’s 100 butterfly Olympic gold race in Sydney 2000

person: my fiancée Guido Frackers


athlete: Roger Federer

pre-race song: This changes every competition but recently I listen a lot to Polo & Pan at the moment.

food: curry with rice

pool: Foro Italico in Rome, Italy

inspirational quote: “And one day she discovered she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire and that her passion always burned brighter than her fears.”

way to relax: Mid-day naps and social time with friends

holiday destination: Maui, Hawaii 

Follow Femke on Instagram 


Endurance vs sprinting. With sprinting, we talked about having variation in your training routine and how sprinting is an effective way to improve your overall speed. On the other side, endurance swimming requires less energy since you're swimmi... read on »

Welcome to 2020! We hope you had a good slide into it. An Olympic year, a leap year. Swimmers and Olympic triathletes have been working hard for four years to this very point. Will their hard work bring gold or tears? There is ... read on »

Can you imagine swimming twice a day, six days a week, day in-day out, the whole year round and still wanting to get in the water and train for one or two hours at a time. This is the life of the pro swimmer or triathlete. How do they st... read on »