U.S. Olympic Athletes Are Built, Not Born for Their Sports

See How Team USA Athletes Fare When They Compete in Olympic Games Sports Different from Their Own

Team USA athletes dedicate their lives to their Olympic Games sport, train hard and pay close attention to their diet. Competing at the highest level requires commitment and focus; because champions are built, not born.

Three Team USA athletes— swimmers Caitlin Leverenz and Elizabeth Beisel and rugby player Perry Baker — agreed to tackle the Built, Not Born Challenge and learn a new sport for a day.  These athletes, who have spent years training at the highest level for their respective Olympic  Games sports, found themselves on a level playing field when they spent the day challenging themselves at a sport different than their own, proving they are built, not born, for their sport. 

How U.S. Olympic Athletes Are Built, Not Born

“To be built, not born means progress,” swimmer Caitlin Leverenz said. “It means that I can’t just show up. I can’t just show up on a volleyball court and expect amazing results. You have to put in the hours of training, sleep the right amount and take care of your body. You do all of these things that culminate into building yourself for your sport. It’s a constant process.”

That process includes embracing the dedication and hard work every day that is required to become the best — in order to be built, not born. And they have advice for those considering following in their footsteps.

“Make sure that you love what you do,” Elizabeth Beisel said. “If you’re going to be coming to practice upwards of 10 hours a day, giving your entire day to whatever it is, you’re going to need to love it and you’re going to have to do it with purpose.”

But it’s more than the countless of hours of training for elite athletes.

“I am so proud of myself from where I came from, and the sacrifice that I put into it [my training], to come where I am today,” Perry Baker said.

Watch U.S. Olympic Swimmer Elizabeth Beisel and U.S. Olympic Rugby Team Hopeful Perry Baker Trade Places


Determination and hard work combined with proper nutrition and a lifetime of dedication built both Elizabeth Beisel and Perry Baker into the elite athletes they are today. Both competitors have competed in other sports before; Elizabeth Beisel started swimming after discovering diving wasn’t for her when she was younger, while Perry Baker made the switch from football to rugby in 2012.

And their competitive spirit brings out their passion for sport — even when they switch.

“One of my favorite things about watching sports is seeing that hard work finally pay off. That’s what I’m working towards, and yes, I’m definitely built. I was not born with it,” said Perry Baker.

What happens when Elizabeth Beisel, steps out of the pool and hits the rugby pitch? How does Perry Baker’s fancy footwork on the field help him find his depth in the pool? 

How Does Nutrition Fuel Team USA Athletes’ Olympic Games Training

In addition to the Olympic Games training elite athletes do on the road to Rio – both in and out of the gym — our Team Milk athletes Perry Baker, Elizabeth Beisel and Caitlin Leverenz drink milk. They know that milk’s nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, fuel their bodies to help these elite athletes reach the pinnacle of their training.

And these elite athletes aren’t alone. According to a recent survey, nine out of 10 U.S. Olympians said they drank milk while growing up.

“There always was a glass of milk on the table. It’s just been present in my diet throughout my whole life,” Caitlin Leverenz said.

For 90 percent of U.S. Olympians surveyed, they said their diet is an important part of their Olympic Games training, even more than their workout regimen. In addition, U.S. Olympians know a healthy diet, particularly protein, is of the utmost importance.1This close attention to a healthy diet includes white milk. When Team USA athletes drink milk, they add 8 grams of high-quality protein, as well as eight other essential nutrients, in every 8-ounce glass, either at the breakfast table or the Olympic Games training table. In fact, U.S. Olympic Training Centers serve tens of thousands of gallons of milk each year.

Learn more about our Team Milk athletes — from how they train to what they eat — as they head to the Olympic Games to represent Team USA. Join the conversation on their exciting road to Rio on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

KRC Research conducted an online survey among retired, current, and hopeful U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes on behalf of MilkPEP via the U.S. Olympic Committee between February 23 and March 7, 2016. The U.S. Olympic Committee and its National Governing Bodies distributed e-mail invitations with a link to the survey to its retired, current, and hopeful athletes inviting them to participate. In total, 1,113 completed the ten-minute survey (675 Olympians, 93 Paralympians, and 345 hopefuls in training).

2 9 out of 10 finding based on 675 responses received from survey invitations sent to U.S. Olympians.