Olympians Take Time Out: Julie Swail Ertel

In 2000, Julie Swail Ertel helped make history as a member of the U.S. women's water polo team in the sport's debut Olympic performance. Ertel and the team took home the silver medal. The veteran Olympian heads to Beijing on the hunt for a second medal. This time she will be competing in triathlon and showcasing her skills as an all-around athlete.

Before the Games, Ertel took some time out to tell Active.com about life as an Olympian.

What's on your iPod playlist?
A very eclectic mix, but mostly classic rock and some pop. Anything that is fast paced or has sentimental meaning to me I like to listen to while training, but I have some slow stuff for winding down.

For the Olympics, I've added:

  • "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen
  • "California Girls" by The Beach Boys
  • "American Woman"
  • "Proud to Be an American"  by Lee Greenwood

From my water polo days, I still have a mix that our team put together. It includes:

  • "Right Now" by Van Halen
  • "This is the Time" by Billy Joel
  • "All I Want To Do is Have Some Fun" by Sheryl Crow
  • "These are the Days" by 10,000 Maniacs

I've got some mellow songs too which help me relax as I stretch and warm down.

  • "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul and Mary
  • "Breathe" by Anna Nalick
  • "Come Away with Me" by Norah Jones

What helps you unwind after a hard day of practice/training?
I like going for a nice walk with my husband, Greg. I like telling him about my training day and love hearing about his day at work. It helps me leave the training day behind and unwind for a good night's sleep. If we don't have that much time, I like zoning out in front of the TV for 30 minutes before bedtime. If I've had a hard training day, Greg will give me a calf or foot massage which is therapeutic and relaxing.

What's one thing about being an Olympic athlete that would surprise most people?
Being an Olympian doesn't mean instant sponsorship and endorsements. Most Olympians, like me, have to work to do what they love--compete for their country.
What's a typical training meal?
A good balance of carbs, protein and good fat. When I am at home, my husband Greg and I will eat the high-protein Zone pasta a lot. Or I'll add sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, spinach, olives and parmesean cheese to pasta for a quick 10 minute "gourmet" dinner. Most nights I also have a spinach salad with cranberries or fresh berries, walnuts, fat-free feta cheese dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.

What are you most looking forward to at the Games?
Getting to enjoy the Games experience afterwards with my husband, Greg.

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