This week’s conversation is with Hall of Fame swimming coach Bob Bowman, the maestro behind the illustrious career of Michael Phelps.

He’s now the Head Coach for the Men’s and Women’s programs at Arizona State University.

He is a four-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team staff, including Head Coach of the Men’s team at Rio 2016.

He has guided swimmers to 38 Olympic medals, including 21 individual medals and 19 individual gold medals, and 43 World Records over the course of his illustrious career.

Bob comes from a family of teachers and that’s how he views himself: a teacher.

He has experienced an incredible amount of success, but it is all about the process for him.

When it comes to the process, Bob has four phases to his model: discovery, imagination, challenge, and high performance.

This conversation has it all.

We cover the common traits of high performers, how he gets the most out of his swimmers, and Bob shares some fantastic stories about his experiences coaching Olympians Michael Phelps, Allison Schmitt, and others.

Bob has been by the side of the greatest swimmer to ever do it for 20 years. I can’t wait for you to learn from him in this conversation.


“What drives me is pushing the limits of what’s possible.”

In This Episode:

  • Coming from a teaching family growing up
  • The four phases of his model: discovery, imagination, challenge, and high performance
  • Process vs outcome.
  • The dream goal vs. main goals vs. immediate goals
  • The moment Michael Phelps decided he wanted to be the best ever
  • Being your best vs being better than others
  • Creating challenging environments in practice so they are ready for big events
  • How he trains mental toughness
  • Combining technical, intensity, and mindset into his formula for training
  • Importance of relationship based coaching
  • Why honesty is at the center on how he enhances his relationships with players
  • The most challenging time he faced with Michael Phelps
  • The keys to raising high performing children
  • Pre-performance routines
  • The hyper-awareness of high performers
  • What is the common thread between high performers?
  • Helping Alison Schmidt work through imposter syndrome / depression
  • His methods for helping athletes recovery better
  • Michael Phelps visualizing techniques
  • What he would ask another master: how do they spend their time?


Listen via: Apple Podcasts | Android | Stitcher | Pocket Casts |  RSS



“The process is all of the things that we control. The outcomes are largely not in our control except for by way of the process by having prepared well.”

“The coaches role is to know the players goals, remind them on a daily basis, and tweak them if need be.”

“We (him and Michael Phelps) never defined success relative to other people. It’s really relative to what our expectations for ourselves are.”

“The number one thing I do is I’m completely honest at all times. I don’t ever bullshit anybody. That is hard to do sometimes.”

“I think a world class coach is a keen observer of human behavior.”…. “I spend a lot of my time just watching people, listening to what they say to me and each other, and trying to get a real feel for who they are and where they might be based on that.”

“Pressure comes when you start paying attention to external causes of things that happen.”

“The most dangerous thought is “What happens if I don’t achieve my goal?” The most productive thought is what am I going to do right now?”

“I notice that the high performers are hyper aware.”

“For me it’s about seeing what the actual possibilities are. How far can this thing go? Every time I take a step beyond what I think I can do, that motivates me super hard to work for the next step. That inner-satisfaction drives me.”

His Philosophy: “Process is more important than the outcome. That’s it.”

On recovery: “The way that you approach the periods betweens the training sessions is really going to determine the effectiveness of the training sessions.”

“There’s a direct correlation between the number of hours of sleep an athletic gets and the quality of their performance. Guarantee you. Or anyone or any person.”

“When you’re at the Olympic Games, I’d say its 90% mental and 10% physical.”

“Meditation is really powerful and I think you’ll find most successful people are spending time during their day working on that.”

“If you don’t have very specific goals, it’s hard to know what you’re accomplishing on a daily basis.”

“Michael Phelps is the greatest visualizer of all time. He will visualize the race going exactly the way he wants to go and he will do it exactly as if he’s in the water and as if he’s in the stands. He will also visualize how things will go wrong in the race and how we will respond to it.”

“I want the athletes who come through my program to leave it with a skill set that they take beyond swimming.”

“Success is getting close to your potential. I’m not sure if any of us ever fully reach it.”

“The more people I can positively influence, the closer I am to my potential.”

If he could ask another master one question: “How do you spend most of your time?”

“I see mastery as self-actualization. Over time you’ve developed this physical skill set. Not only do you have the physical skill set, but you have the emotional maturity and experience and psychological experience and capacity to use everything at an optimized state. I think it’s being self-actualized in your activity.”

On his crown jewel: “I am undeterred by setbacks. I just keep going.”

On Allison Schmidt: “Her crown jewel is that she cares about other people so much. She is a truly empathetic person.”

On Michael Phelps: “His crown jewel is his ability to imagine things that were never done and just kill himself to get there.”


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Swimming Head Coach at

Bob Bowman is the Head Coach for the Men’s and Women’s swimming programs at Arizona State University. He’s also a four-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team staff, including Head Coach of the Men’s team at Rio 2016 and was Michael Phelps’ swim coach for over 20 years.