OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST RYAN LOCHTE ON HOW SLEEPING AFFECTS HIS SUCCESS
Olympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte tells us why Airweave is his secret training weapon for the upcoming Rio summer games.
Ryan Lochte has 11 Olympic medals under his belt, five of them gold, in the sport of swimming. In preparation for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Lochte’s training has also focused on something outside of his time in the pool and gym—his sleep. After discovering Airweave bedding toppers at the Colorado Olympic Training Center over two years ago, the Olympian has noticed a marked difference in his sleep and now travels with the lightweight mattress wherever he goes.
Created in Japan in 2004 by Motokuni Takaoka, Airweave bedding toppers are made using three-dimensional resin fibers that aim to reduce strain on joins and restlessness, disperse heat and moisture created by the body, and distribute weight evenly for a sounder sleep. After supplying toppers to some of team Japan’s athletes for both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, Airweave turned their attention to the Sochi 2014 winter games, where 33 percent of the medaling athletes were members of teams that used their supplied bedding toppers.
Here, we chat with Lochte and Takaoka about the benefits of Airweave, Lochte’s Olympic training schedule, and what NYC pizza spot the Olympian loves.
How did you conceive of the idea for Airweave?
Motokuni Takaoka: In 2004, I took over my uncle’s manufacturing company that had patented plastic injection machinery used to make fishing equipment. I thought about how to utilize this unique material and technology, and decided to design a mattress. We found that when sleeping on an Airweave mattress, your core temperature drops and increases your body's natural recovery. With science to back us up, we have forged partnerships with elite athletes, like Ryan, because they know that when they wake up on an Airweave they'll feel more rested and have improved recovery from the impact of the intense physical training performed every day.
How long have you been using Airweave?
Ryan Lochte: A little over two years. I’d been using it before I signed on to be a global ambassador.
How did you find out about the product?
RL: At the Colorado Olympic Training Center. We always go there for Olympic training. They had a bunch of mattresses shipped in for the dorms for the athletes, and I was one of the athletes that tried it out. I tried it out for a week and noticed I was actually sleeping the whole night. I wasn’t waking up. I was like, “Why was I sleeping better on this dorm bed rather than my big, king-sized mattress at home?” I talked to the people about it and they said it was Airweave, so I got one for my home and have been sleeping on it since.
What are some of the other differences you have noticed between regular mattresses and Airweave?
RL: We have a sleep rate monitor that they give some of the athletes, and you put it under your mattress. Before, without Airweave, disturbances were up to 60 times throughout the whole night. I was just tossing and turning. I couldn’t really sleep on my side. I was always waking up with shoulder pain because it was stiff, and it would affect me and my practice. That’s when I started using Airweave. I was waking up maybe ten times, if that. The quality of sleep is so much better and it’s just made a tremendous difference.
Why is getting a restful sleep so important, especially for athletes?
RL: As an athlete, you’re always training. You’re beating up your body and you’re so tired. You need that recovery, that extra regimen in your training, to take you to the next level. [The mattress] is for everyone and you definitely notice a difference. I have buddies of mine back home, and I’m like “try this out for a week and see how you feel.” They’re like, “I’m getting so much better sleep. I feel like I’m waking up energized.” It’s pretty amazing.
Have you had any injuries in your career?
RL: I tore my knee once break-dancing on my living room floor. The other time I was walking down the street at a football game on the sidewalk and all I hear is “Ryan!” I turn around and there’s this girl that was in mid-air. I caught her, it was a fan, and she toppled me over. I smashed my knee on the sidewalk and tore it. I was in shock and was like, “Next time, just tap me on the shoulder and I’ll take a picture with you.” I was suppose to get surgery because it was a grade three tear—one of the worst—but it was too close to the world championship. I was like I’m not doing it, so I rehabbed it and healed quicker. I get pain sometimes. When it’s cold or about to rain, I can feel it in my knee.
You’re from Canandaigua in upstate New York. What are your favorite spots to visit when you come to the city?
RL: I’m a big fan of pizza. That’s my cheat food. Every Friday, a family tradition is we have pizza. I’ve only missed it six times in my life since I was eight. That’s one of the things I have to do when I come to the city. I love Artichoke. It’s New York-style pizza—you can’t beat it.
Where do you train in the city?
RL: Asphalt Green. They have a 50-meter pool, it’s an Olympic-sized pool, so it’s perfect. They always let me in. I’m traveling a lot and doing appearances, so I have to find time for that. If I have an appearance at eight in the morning, I can’t train at five in the morning. I’m too old for that.
What’s your training schedule like?
RL: If I have one practice, it’s 2-3 hours. If it’s two, 5-6 hours a day. I have nine practices a week—two Monday, two Tuesday, one Wednesday, two Thursday, one Friday, and one Saturday. Sunday is off. For swimming, you want to do your hard training in the middle of the season, so right now I’m doing my hard training. I’m eating 8,000 calories a day. When it gets closer to the trials and the Olympics, you start cutting down on practices and yardage, and it’s when you do less and eat less.
Are you looking forward to Rio?
RL: I’m so excited. I wish it was tomorrow. I’ve been ready for it since 2012.
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