Taking Five with Kate Campbell – The Art of Rest and Recovery

Courtesy: Eney Jones.

“When you rest, you take a breath and it holds you, like water wings…”

Anne Lamott

Malawi-born Australian swimmer Kate Campbell is one of the most decorated swimmers in history: in longevity, endurance and honors.

Kate was a two-time Olympic bronze medalist in 2008. Then in the 2012 Olympics, she was a gold medalist. In 2016, she won a gold and a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Rio, and in Tokyo in 2021 she again became a gold medalist.

As the month of January draws to a close, a month where swimmers all over the world brush up on their poor technique and burn themselves out with 100 x 100s on New Year’s Day; it is time to review our needs and implement an important part of training that is often overlooked. Rest and recovery.

Here are Kate’s top 5 recovery tips:

a dream. I cannot stress this enough. If you could put sleep in a pill, it would be the best-selling supplement of all time. If you have trouble falling asleep, try turning off electronic devices 30 minutes before bed. Try listening to bedtime stories or an audiobook. (This is a game changer for me, I want something engaging enough to hold my attention but not so exciting that it keeps me awake. Sometimes it’s the audiobook of a book I’ve read – while I was at the Olympics it was Getting Up read by Michelle Obama, her voice is so soothing too.)

Keeping hydrated. If you’re like me and aren’t a huge fan of plain water, try some Hydralyte and replace the coffee with tea.

Relief of exercise if necessary. Listen to your body and what it is telling you. It doesn’t matter what your brain tells you you “should” do.

saying no to something and be okay with prioritizing recovery.

Rest is an important part of performance, so don’t feel bad if you need a more relaxed week!

Kate’s insight led me to the experiments of Dr. Kurt Richter, a Harvard professor who conducted a series of experiments with water, buckets, and domesticated and wild rats in the 1950s. In the first experiment, rats were placed in buckets of water and died within minutes. In the second experiment, a few moments before the rats died, he took them out and gave them a rest. Then, when replaced in the bucket, they can swim and survive for up to 60 hours! Scientists often call this experiment the “hope” experiment, but maybe, just maybe, REST was the key.

For more information about the experiment, click here.

Does Kate live up to her advice? Give up electronics and social media periodically? Just read this…

Hi Eney,

Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been taking a break from life (and emails) over the Christmas period.

I’d be happy to set up a time to chat next week.



Be like Kate!


Annie Jones has achieved remarkable varied success as a leading swimmer in pool, open water and Ironman triathlon.

  • Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k Freestyle 2009
  • Open water 5km champion Perth Australia May 2008
  • National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 Freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August 2008.
  • Overall champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii September 2008
  • Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd Place 2006, 2nd Place Overall 2009, 3rd Place 2012
  • European record holder and Masters swimming champion2005 Records include 200, 400, 800, 1500m freestyle
  • Over twenty-time finalist at the US Swimming Nationals, including the 1980 Olympic Trials
  • NCAA Gold Medal 1979 800-yard freestyle relay, 1979 200-yard freestyle silver medalist 1979-1980 US National Team.
  • Professional triathlete 1983-1991 First woman to exit the water in every Hawaii Ironman race (6).

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