Do you excel at swimming? Think you’re good enough to become a professional swimmer? If you do there are some things to think about. First and foremost, becoming a professional swimmer takes a lot of dedication and work so it is best if you start young. Secondly, there are two types of “professional swimmers” so you have to think about what type you want to be.

The first type of professional swimmer is the man or woman who swims for prestige and eventually works his/her way up to breaking records or competing in the Olympics. Going this route, you’ll have trophies, titles, medals, and some modicum of fame. However, many professional swimmers don’t make money swimming. They end up working a “day job” to support their swimming. Of course, the second type of professional swimmer is the swimmer who wants to make swimming into a career and make money through endorsements and the like. It’s also good to remember that both of these types of swimmers can go hand in hand. The more status you get, the easier you will find it to acquire endorsement deals.

No matter which route you decide to take in professional swimming, the route will almost always be the same. Here are a few guidelines to get you on your way.

  1. Pick your event. – What is your best event? Professional swimmers focus on a few key events to become great in rather than trying to just become all-around good swimmers. The main events you can choose from are: backstroke (100 or 200 meters), breaststroke (100m or 200m), butterfly (100 or 200m), freestyle (50-1500m), and individual medley (200 or 400m).
  2. Join a swim team – Do this at your local swim school, YMCA, or community center as soon as possible. The younger you can join, the better, since you’ll get better at swimming with time.
  3. Study – Learn everything that there is to know about your chosen style of swimming. Read, research, and ask questions of your swim coach and fellow swimmers. Knowledge is power and one of the best ways to find out how to improve your technique.
  4. Practice! Practice! Practice! – Practice as much as possible. Don’t just practice when your team practices. Practice on your own. Practice in the off-season. Even practice when you’re on vacation. Find a pool or a lake and swim!
  5. Advance – As you compete and get older, you’ll be allowed access to more and more opportunities to compete and move up into more difficult competitions.
  6. Join a swimming club – USA Swimming has committees in all areas of the United States. Check out their website to find your local committee and join. By joining, you’ll have access to USA Swimming organized events.
  7. Meet the time trials – To get into international or Olympic swimming events, you have to pass their time trials.
  8. Shop for sponsors and endorsements – If you’re trying to make money at swimming, begin by seeking out lesser known or local active-lifestyle businesses for sponsorship and endorsement deals and work your way up from there. Of course, if you’re an Olympic medal winner, you might want to start with some bigger companies.