South magazine [82] HEALTH & WELLNESS 2019 - Page 66

Three athletes who live, breathe and eat fitness reveal their secrets on how they achieve a top level of performance. Finding the motivation is half the battle. EREK NELSON, COMPETITIVE SWIMMER “It’s cliché, but you have to look at your body like a sports car. You’re not going to put 86 octane in a Ferrari,” Erek Nelson says. Nelson’s Ferrari goes from zero to 60 in the pool six days a week, but he wasn’t always a finely tuned swimming machine. “It took me a long time and a lot of discipline over time,” he says, and he’s still tinkering with the engine. Luckily for the rest of us, Nelson says getting started is the easy part. “Starting off, results will come quickly. Small things will make a big impact. You’ll want to go back because you like the results you’re getting,” he explains. Once you reach an elite level, things become more restrictive, and that can be challenging even for Nelson. “There are constant temptations. It’s about keeping your goals in mind at the end of the day,” he says. Nelson teaches swimming lessons to people young and old and those with special needs – a source of inspiration to him and something he says everyone should do for safety reasons alone. “It’s very gratifying to give people the experience of water. Whether you’re an elite swimmer or not, you have to respect the dangers of it.” W R I T T E N B Y M O L LY C L A N C Y H P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y D . PA U L G R A H A M 64 SOUTH December | January 2020