Axel, you’re a young swimmer and you already have some impressive titles under your belt. You follow a micronutrition plan, can you tell us why?
I started working with a micronutrition advisor while I was preparing for the 2016-2017 world championships, after I’d won the title of European champion, because I was really run down. When you swim in lakes, seas and rivers, bacteria are everywhere. I’m one of the swimmers who swims the most in the world, but that doesn’t make me immune to illness. In 2016, I was getting stomach bugs at least once a month, and four of them were quite serious. I also kept getting chest infections, colds, and the flu throughout the year.
I found out about micronutrition before my last big altitude training session for the 2017 world championships and it was a lifesaver because I didn’t get sick at all for the whole time - not even a cold! Since then, micronutrition has been an integral part of my daily routine as an athlete.
What essential qualities would you say you need to perform well as a swimmer?
I think it’s the same for all sports: discipline, talent and, most of all, putting in lots of work. With swimming, for example, hard work is the bottom line. In open waters, the most important things are your mental strength, tactics and clear thinking. In the pool, though, it’s more about starts, turns and strokes.