On this episode of the Project Kuwait podcast, Mahdi, Meg, and Liam are honored to interview Faye Sultan, a Kuwaiti Olympic swimmer in the 2012 and 2016 Games. Faye shares with listeners about her journey as a swimmer and the importance of being involved in athletics and studies in a good balance. She is an advocate for female athletes and she wants to see more people in Kuwait be active.
1:39 – Faye describes her journey towards becoming an Olympic swimmer. She started swimming competitively at age 8 (when her parents had to bribe her with Kit Kats) and she joined Elite Swim Team a couple of years later. On this team, she was introduced to reliable and established workouts which propelled her to the next level.
4:48 – She really had a proclivity towards the water, but at times it was a love/hate relationship.
5:37 – Meg talks about her own experience with beginning swimming at age 5 and having to choose to commit to swimming over other sports at age 12. What stands out to her looking back is the incredible time commitment that swimming required.
6:18 – Faye went to the States for college, where her swimming experience was very different than her time in Kuwait. Because of the remoteness of her college, she was able to focus entirely on being a student athlete.
7:44 – Faye provides some background on her family and asserts that swimming was more grueling than the tennis and basketball that her brothers chose to pursue. She typically trained from 5:00-6:45am, went to school, and was back in the pool by 2:30pm for another training session before going to bed at 8:00pm and starting all over. She credits the support of her family for her success and ability to train as much as she could.
11:13 – Meg brings up the difficulty finding other girls to compete against.
11:36 – Faye acknowledges that she did suffer from a lack of competition until she went to college.
13:04 – Mahdi asks Faye how she dealt with negative feedback and backlash to her competitiveness.
13:29 – Faye says that most people were supportive, but she just didn’t pay attention to those who weren’t.
14:33 – Faye talks about leading the way for female athletes with humility and building awareness about female athletes in general.
15:43 – Faye describes the lack of funding from the government or other sources until she was on the Olympic team. Her parents solely funded her training for the years leading up to then.
16:40 – Mahdi says that even though there is so much raw talent in Kuwait, many parents make their children focus on school over sports, so very few make it to elite levels of competition.
17:49 – Faye asserts that sports can save kids’ lives. There are so many applicable lessons learned through athletics, and it teaches kids about the importance of commitment and balance.
18:27 – Meg and Faye describe the lessons learned including discipline and working hard towards goals.
20:02 – Faye outlines common injuries that can occur during competitive swimming, even though it is not an impact sport. She advocates for plenty of warming up and stretching before a workout and then consistently using ice after a swim. She also says that athletes should be smart and know their bodies, not pushing too hard but also continuing to work out unaffected areas even when they’ve sustained an injury.
22:27 – Liam asks about Faye’s workout routine and if she ever works out in a gym. Faye typically worked out with weights 3 times per week and did dry land workouts 2 times per week in college.
24:40 – In college, Faye did 2 workouts per day that were 2-2.5 hours each, and in Kuwait she did 2 workouts of 1.5-2 hours per day. She discusses the differences that she noticed between her