Canada's most decorated Olympian Penny Oleksiak says she's focusing on her recovery so she can race again following a knee surgery in 2022.
The professional swimmer moved to California three months ago so she could slow down the fast-paced lifestyle that she had in Toronto. She says the move has also helped her to focus primarily on her training for the 2024 Olympics.
"I really like the team I have out here and it's really professional and there's a really good group of swimmers that I get to train with and just the environment is so beautiful," the 23-year-old athlete said.
Narcity spoke to Oleksiak right after she left a gym training session in California. We discussed how she's doing post-surgery, what her plans are for 2024 and what her fitness and nutrition routines look like when she trains.
Here's what she had to say.
How is Penny Oleksiak's recovery going?
Oleksiak tore her knee last year, which then required surgery in August 2022.
The athlete says she decided to go "full throttle" with training a little too soon afterwards and ended up injuring her shoulder, which she's rehabbing now.
"My focus kind of shifted. Right now I'm strengthening my knee still and still kind of working on that and trying to make sure it's always healthy. But right now my shoulders are kind of my biggest rehab thing that I'm getting over."
What does Penny Oleksiak eat while she's training?
Oleksiak says she never really took diet seriously until a year ago when she began doing research and started working with nutritionists and other specialists.
"I'm a huge believer now in that nutrition is everything for your mental health, for your physical health, for your emotional health," she said.
"I think it really does affect all of that and those all obviously play a part in my training, in my racing."
The swimmer says she doesn't follow a specific diet and instead tries to ensure she's constantly fuelling her body with foods that will help her either recover or prepare for upcoming training sessions.
She's also big on supplements like vitamin D taken with probiotics, magnesium for recovery and has electrolytes to keep her going throughout a training session. She also incorporates functional mushrooms into her daily routine.
"Having those functional mushrooms in the morning, in my coffee and then also when I'm training is really nice. It actually does make such a difference [...] clearing that brain fog and just kind of getting more dialled in and also just during a training session replenishing those electrolytes."
Oleksiak says she's also done testing to see what foods have a negative impact on her body.
"I did a hormone test to see what I'm allergic to [...] what my body has inflammation with and it's literally such simple things like eggs and asparagus and stuff like that. So learning those little things that make your body feel good or not feel good is really important," she told Narcity.
Does Penny Oleksiak have a go-to meal before a race?
Oleksiak says before a race she tries to stay away from any foods that she's allergic to.
"When I'm competing, I usually try and lean really heavily on like a super high carb, super high protein diet and I'll kind of alternate between them," she said.
She further explained that before a competition she'll make sure she gets those carbs in and then she'll have protein afterwards for her recovery. She also makes sure to get in a lot of fruits and vegetables. Right before the race she'll also get more carbs in with a sports drink.
The Canadian swimmer then thought back to what she ate at the Olympics in 2020 and noted that it can be tough to find a "go to meal" at those specific competitions.
"I find one or two meals that I really enjoy, that are exactly what I need for recovery," she said and added that she then sticks to those two meals throughout the entire competition.
"In Tokyo I was pretty random. I remember I ate a lot of onions and a lot of chicken thighs and udon noodles. It was honestly pretty good. There's a lot of vegetable options so I was always looking for those," she continued.
"The cafeterias aren't as bougie as people sometimes think."
What does Penny Oleksiak eat on a cheat day?
Oleksiak is not a huge fan of cheat days because she says if she were to need one then she would "overindulge." She instead focuses on balanced eating.
"If I feel like having something I'm probably going to have it. [If] I want chips I'm not going to sit there and not let myself have it," she said.
"I'll find something that's going to counteract my craving. If I'm craving a lot of sugar, I'll try and up my protein a bit because usually if you're craving sugar, it means your body needs protein."
What types of workouts does Penny Oleksiak focus on?
When it comes to her workout routine, Oleksiak says she has eight swimming sessions a week.
She's also a "huge believer" in cross-training and works with a personal trainer in L.A. three times a week.
"I also really love pilates. In Toronto, that was something I did twice a week, but now I'm just trying to find a place out in L.A. to do it," Oleksiak said.
When will Penny Oleksiak race again?
Penny Oleksiak says training is going really well and she's trying to stay consistent with it.
"I'm doing a US Open in [North] Carolina at the end of November  so that's gonna kind of be my first meet back since I tore my knee," she explained.
"I went to Europe and I wanted to race in Europe but just with everything going on with my shoulder, it was pretty difficult. So now I'm just kind of focused on doing these little meets and getting back into it and getting things together."
When asked about the 2024 Olympics in France, Oleksiak says she plans to be there.
How does Penny Oleksiak feel about her Olympic medals in 2016 and 2020?
Penny Oleksiak made her Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 games where at just 16 years old she won four medals. According to the Olympic website, she became Canada's youngest Olympic gold medallist ever.
Then at the following Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, the Toronto native won three more medals.
With seven medals under her belt, Oleksiak is Canada's most decorated Olympian.
So how does she feel looking back at her incredible achievements?
"I definitely, for a while, felt a lot of pressure from my achievements. I think a lot of people would always compliment me on it and it kind of stressed me out a bit," she told Narcity.
The Canadian athlete says while she's grateful for everything she's accomplished, she's now moving on to bigger goals.
"I feel like what I've accomplished is a fraction of where I want to actually be," she added.
"I've always wanted a world record so if I could get a world record, I would love that."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.