Austin Surhoff

US National & NCAA Champion

Austin is a former NCAA and US National Champion.  After a three-year retirement Austin quickly made headlines, having placed 2nd in the 50 free and 3rd in the 100 free at the first Pro Swim Series in the run up to 2021 Olympic Trials.  Previously a 200 and 400IMer, he has quietly positioned himself as a contender for a spot on this year’s Olympic Team with a unique workout regimen and reduced amount of training that emphasizes creativity, innovation, diversity, and quality.

“I love what Austin is doing and the energy he brings to Fike Swim.  He rediscovered his love for the sport and is coming back with a fresh, innovative mindset.  He had enormous success in college and his first pro career by training a certain way, a more traditional way.  It would be hard not to fall back on that and hope it will work again.  But he's a different kind of swimmer now, an older sprinter, and he recognized the need to rethink things and to chart a new path.  That's very courageous and inspiring.” -James Fike

Austin Surhoff's swimming accomplishments include:

  • 2x Olympic Trials Finalist (2012, 2016)
  • 4x Olympic Trials Qualifier (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020)
  • 3x US National Team member (2012, 2013, 2015)
  • 2013 World University Games Silver Medalist
  • 2014 US National Champion
  • 2x NCAA Champion (2010, 2012)

“I joined the FIKE SWIM team because I’m doing something different with my career these days — more intentionality, more focus, more commitment — and Fike Swim is a company that has that same mindset.  It’s right there in the motto — “Swim Different.”  I’m excited to join the team and be a part of pushing the sport further into the future!” -Austin

Austin Surhoff

US National & NCAA Champion

Austin is a former NCAA and US National Champion.  After a three-year retirement Austin quickly made headlines, having placed 2nd in the 50 free and 3rd in the 100 free at the first Pro Swim Series in the run up to 2021 Olympic Trials.  Previously a 200 and 400IMer, he has quietly positioned himself as a contender for a spot on this year’s Olympic Team with a unique workout regimen and reduced amount of training that emphasizes creativity, innovation, diversity, and quality.

“I love what Austin is doing and the energy he brings to Fike Swim.  He rediscovered his love for the sport and is coming back with a fresh, innovative mindset.  He had enormous success in college and his first pro career by training a certain way, a more traditional way.  It would be hard not to fall back on that and hope it will work again.  But he's a different kind of swimmer now, an older sprinter, and he recognized the need to rethink things and to chart a new path.  That's very courageous and inspiring.” -James Fike

Austin Surhoff's swimming accomplishments include:

  • 2x Olympic Trials Finalist (2012, 2016)
  • 4x Olympic Trials Qualifier (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020)
  • 3x US National Team member (2012, 2013, 2015)
  • 2013 World University Games Silver Medalist
  • 2014 US National Champion
  • 2x NCAA Champion (2010, 2012)

“I joined the FIKE SWIM team because I’m doing something different with my career these days — more intentionality, more focus, more commitment — and Fike Swim is a company that has that same mindset.  It’s right there in the motto — “Swim Different.”  I’m excited to join the team and be a part of pushing the sport further into the future!” -Austin

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Q&A with

Austin Surhoff

Q&A with Austin Surhoff

Q: Who is your coach and which team do you compete for?

A: "I swim unattached and I coach myself.  I got here because I was a high-yardage middle-distance swimmer my whole life - always a 200 IMer and a 400 IMer.  Nobody ever showed me a different path.  Now that I’m 30 years old, and I’ve had 4 years of coaching to learn about sprinting, I know that I know myself better than anyone, and thus want to be the person responsible for my own training.  That way, on race day, there is no one to blame for a bad swim but myself.  It’s all on me."

Q: How did you get into swimming?

A: "Like many swimmers, I don't remember why I started swimming - my parents just sort of started driving me to practice when I was 9.  I do know why I stayed: my friends.  I didn’t really have a lot of friends at school when I was younger, so when I started making close friends at swim practice, I never wanted to leave the sport.  My college coach, Eddie Reese, always used to say, “You don’t choose the sport, the sport chooses you.” I like to think my story is one that fits that description."

Q: What are some of the highlights of your career?

A: "The highlights of my career are three amazing relays I got to be a part of.

  1. In March of 2012, as a junior in college, I was a member of an NCAA Championship-winning 400 free relay for Texas. The meet had been pretty disappointing so far - our team swam poorly, I swam poorly, and we were going to lose the team title after being favored to win. The 400 Free relay was the last event. In high school, my best event was the 200 and 400 Im - nobody thought of me as a sprinter. But I made it my goal to one day be on a Texas sprint relay. And, 3 years later, at the end of a disappointing meet, I still reached that goal, and I won an NCAA title with three of my friends. It showed me that no matter how the last event went, or how the meet is going, the next event can always be better.
  2. In July of 2013, my first summer as a pro, I was on a USA 4x200 free relay that won Silver at the World University Games in Russia. It was my last swim for team USA after representing our country at 5 different meets in my life. I had never competed in a 4x200 relay on a big stage before, and had only come into my own in the 200 freestyle a year before. But I prided myself in my ability to rise to the pressure of big meets. It was my only swim at a seven day meet, near the very end. So my only job for a week was to stay sharp, and carry myself well as one of the Captains of the USA team. When it came time to swim, I remember feeling almost nothing the entire race. I was so full of adrenaline and emotion that something deeper came out of me and carried me through. I went over a second under my best time, and as a team we won silver. It was a special final swim for my country.
  3. In April of 2018, me and a group of friends went to a Master’s meet to swim some relays together. We were all 27-28 years old, and none of us were “full-time” swimmers anymore - we all had careers in other avenues of life, and did swimming as a hobby.  I had quit swimming following the 2016 Olympic trials and taken a long break. I had only been back swimming for 3 months at the time of this Masters meet. Something must have been in the water, because over the course of two days we set 4 Masters American Records. It was really special because I had never set a record before on a relay, and I got to break 4 of them with my friends. That was actually the day decided to come back to pro swimming, and change myself completely from a 200 IMer into a sprint freestyler.

Q: What is your favorite event?

A: "Any relay.  I love racing with my friends, and I LOVE relay starts.  I always go way faster than my best flat-start times."


Q: How many yards per week do you train?

A: "2000-2500.  A lot of what I do is work with power racks, towers, or vertical kick.  Stuff that you can’t even track yardage for.  So I don’t count my yards. Instead, I focus on making every stroke, every kick, every lap, every turn…perfect."


Q: What does your favorite set look like?

A: "I train the 2nd 50 of my 100 LCM freestyle weekly on Tuesday mornings. The exact details vary as I progress through my training cycle, but the main set is generally 12 to 16 50s on 1:30, every 4th freestyle swim, descending to my goal time in the 2nd 50 of my 100 free. Here’s an example of that main set.

16x50 @ 1:30 Long course

1st 50: EZ free w/ small paddles, snorkel, Mortar pull buoy

2nd 50: Free swim w/ small paddles, snorkel, Mortar, go exactly 30 seconds with smooth stroke

3rd 50: drop equipment. Progression from sculling, to Tarzan drill, to free swim over the course of the lap

4th 50: Free swim FAST. Doing exact dolphin kick count & breathing pattern that I would do in the 2nd 50 of the 100 free.

Go through that 4 rounds. Descend the 4th 50 1 second per round, from 28 seconds on Round one, down to 25 seconds on round four, which is my goal 2nd 50 of my 100 time.

I then end the workout with a warm down of 6x50s on 1:40 with large paddles and The Mortar.  I do hypoxic work here.  I take 3 breaths on the first 50, then 2, then 1.  Then I go 2 breaths, 1 breath, 0 breaths."


Q: What are your competition goals?

A: "This year, my goals are as follows:Times: 21 in the 50 free, 48 in the 100 free.

National Stage: A second swim at the 2021 Olympic Trials.  I have made semi-finals or finals at 3 straight Olympic Trials.  I’d like to extend that streak this year.

International Stage: Being signed by an ISL Team. My goal my whole life was to be a pro athlete.  The possibility of joining a professional swimming team — something I never knew could exist until 2 years ago — is a huge motivator for me."


Q: What are your practice goals to help you reach your race goals?

A: "To always WANT to be at practice.  I spent my entire career - high school, college, my first run as a pro - pushing through workouts I didn’t want to do.  And we all need to do that when we are a part of a team and we have goals we want to achieve.  There’s no getting around that.  But now I am at a phase where I swim because I want to.  I’m 30.  I could be doing anything else with my life.  And I believe that the path to getting the most out of myself is to only be at the pool because I want to, doing what I want to do. And so far, I’ve done some really good work while having that mindset."


Q: Favorite dryland exercise?

A: "My favorite dryland exercise is Medicine Ball Slams.  I grab the ball with both hands, pop up on my toes, straighten my arms and the ball above my head, and SLAM it down as hard as I can.  It works on grabbing the water at the top of my stroke and exploding through my pull I try to do as much of my aerobic work outside of the pool as I can.  I only want to swim perfectly when I go to the pool and never swim sloppy, so any sort of work that I have to “grind” through in order to be in good shape, I want to do outside the water.Before covid, that meant playing basketball.  For about 3 years, I played pick-up basketball once a week.  That was perfect for me because I could get my 45-60 minutes of aerobic work, hang with my friends, and get out my competitive juice (hard to find that in swimming when you coach yourself). I hope I can play basketball again soon.  I genuinely see it as a valuable part of my training."


Q: Favorite post-workout meal?

A: "Breakfast tacos!  I make my favorite breakfast tacos.  A few tricks:

  • whisk the eggs A LOT before cooking them
  • Use kerrygold butter to cook the eggs.  Don’t skimp on butter
  • Add the cheese to the eggs in the pan IMMEDIATLY - while they are still liquid
  • If you have a gas stove, brown the tortillas over an open flame - medium high heat. Flip the second you see smoke coming out from under them."

Q: Who is your swimming role model?

A: "Jason Lezak.  I feel confident that I can coach myself to swim the best I’ve ever swam into my 30s and beyond. I feel that way because Jason already did that. When he went his famous 46.0 relay split to win GOLD for Team USA at the 2008 Olympics, he had been coaching for two years, and he was 32 years old. He then coached himself to ANOTHER Olympic team at the age of 36. He has spoken numerous times before about the responsibility that comes with coaching yourself - it forces you to be your best every day because you have total responsibility over how you swim. There’s no one else you can blame if you don’t succeed. I also admire Jason because these days he is forging the future of swimming as the GM of the ISL’s Cali Condors."

Q: Non-swimming role-model?

A: "Wim Hof.  Wim, known as “The Iceman” for his love for cold water exposure, has been an inspiration to my life for the last few years. I love his approach to life — putting himself in situations others find uncomfortable, like heavy breathing to induce surges of adrenaline or hour-long ice baths, to get the most out of himself and attack life. I try to adapt, like, 1% of Wim’s approach into my own life by doing daily breathing exercises that he teaches, and taking cold showers."

Q: Something most people don't know about you

A: "When I travel, I always try to find a natural body of water to swim in.  I love swimming for fun, and especially love being in the water in nature.  After finding Wim Hof’s teachings, I now try to find the coldest body of water I can get to.  To start of 2021, the first thing I did New Years morning was a plunge, in my training brief, into the frigid Chesapeake Bay.  My goal is to do one cold plunge per week throughout the rest of the winter, each time spending more time in the water.  I’ve done two so far and the second one was even more fun!"

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