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by Greta Van Meeteren

March 26, 2010

Swimming as a way of life

Brett Olson is a buyer for Apria Healthcare. His job is to save the company money by negotiating pricing and contracts on the products they supply to their patients. Olson is not just swimming for fitness; swimming to him is a way of life.

Olson likes doing anything that tests him. He loves competition, in his job and at home. Olson has a wife and three kids and his life is "perfectly" busy. His day starts early with his wife going to the gym at 4:45 every morning, getting the kids up, getting off to work, playing with the kids and finishing the day with a swim practice. "I had no idea what I would be doing at 47 years old but God has blessed me with a beautiful wife, family, job and home near the beach in beautiful Orange County California," says Olson.

He is passionate about training and competing. Olson started swimming club and high school in the late 70s. He also swam one year of college. Afterwards he stopped swimming competitively but surfed regularly as he lived in Newport Beach.

"In my 40s life caught up; between my love of eating and having kids my weight ballooned. I started swimming for fitness and to lose weight," says Olson. "My wife is in tremendous shape and I wanted to be healthy too." Olson tried to run and cycle but after 30 years of playing hockey and three surgeries, his knees are not what they used to be. He started swimming at 24-hour Fitness and in six months, lost 45 lbs. As he started to get into shape he had an eye on the local swim team: Mission Viejo Nadadores. He felt the pull to join the team. Olson loves competing, to him that is the best part of swimming. He loves racing anyone and everyone in workouts or meets.

Olson swims 10 to 11 times a week; Monday—Friday at lunch by himself at the local 24hr Fitness (sprints and drills, 1,500-2,500 yards) and evenings with the Mission Viejo Nadadores (3,000-3,500 yards). Olson usually has a nice long 5,000 - 7,000-yard workout on Saturday and then he takes Sunday off to recover. Olson's favorite stroke is breaststroke. He swims all three events and loves breaststroke with all of his heart.

When asked whether he prefers open water swimming or pool swimming Olson says, “definitely pool swimming, it is me against the clock or a buddy. I’ve tried open water swimming when I lived in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach but I couldn’t get used to seeing the various critters.”

Olson participates in Go the Distance for competition. He has always kept a journal of his swimming and in fact, in 2008 when he started, his goal was to swim the equivalent of Laguna Beach to San Francisco in one year (427 miles). That year he swam 560 miles.

"In the beginning of 2009 I got a little too caught up in the mileage and tore up my shoulder a little bit. I started doing long sets that I normally wouldn’t do as a breaststroker. For instance: sets of 500 pulls just to pad the yards. I ended up hurting my shoulder a little bit. Now I’m back to my regular workout routine and not so motivated to go big with yards just for the stats," says Olson. His advice to other GTD swimmers is to "have fun with it but guard your precious shoulders. It’s not worth hurting yourself to swim an extra 500 miles".

When asked about his favorite swim story, Olson shares, "My favorite swim story has yet to be completed, but will include a personal best in the 50 breast at a championship meet."

His most amusing swim story? "Paddling in Laguna Beach near Crescent Bay and running into a rare pod of killer whales. It scared the crap out of me! I paddled straight into the reef. I don’t feel comfortable with open water swimming, I feel like I’m part of the food chain."


  • Human Interest


  • GTD
  • Motivation
  • Biography