When Allison Schmitt qualified for the fourth Olympic Games, she stunned the audience with her 200-meter freestyle performance. It was clear that there was little between Schmitt and another medal. The swimmer took part in her first Olympic Games in 2008. In 2012 she returned and won gold in the 200 meters freestyle. Schmitt had some personal issues along the way, but she returned to Rio in 2016 and took home both gold and silver medals.

During the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Schmitt swam the third stage of the 4 × 100 meter free relay on the first day. Her success enabled the women’s team to play in the finals, where they took third place and won bronze. Have you ever wondered what makes an athlete who is among the best keep performing? How does this athlete tick? Here are some fun facts about 31-year-old Schmitt.

Allison Schmitt has a degree in psychology and an inside understanding of depression

Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt | Fred Lee / Getty Images

Like the Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber, Schmitt is interested in psychology and social work. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2013. In 2015, AZ Central reported that she would be staying in Tempe, Arizona to do a Masters in Psychology. (USA Swimming calls it a Masters in Social Work, which would get them into the Rose Robinson society.)

Schmitt’s stated goal is to help others struggling with mental illness. In fact, Schmitt spoke very openly about her personal experiences with depression. Both she and several family members have struggled with the mental state. Schmitt was lucky; she managed to seek help.

Schmitt bonds with Michael Phelps because of mental health

The athlete understands the stigma associated with mental health. However, Swimming World points out that Schmitt strongly encourages people to realize that it is perfectly okay to ask for help. However, because depression comes with up and down cycles, it can be difficult to tell when you need help. If you recall, tennis champ Ash Barty came to a similar conclusion and took the necessary steps to reinvent himself.

It could be this understanding that Schmitt shares with his close friend Michael Phelps and his family. AZ Central would describe their relationship as one that looks like brother and sister. For a while, Schmitt, trainer Keenan Robinson and Phelps shared an apartment with his family as roommates. Interestingly, Schmitt views the difficulty of reaching for help as something young swimmers should avoid, which she shares with Phelps.

As a consultant at ASU, the top athlete has the respect of the great

Understanding the darkness that depression brings to life, the medalist has worked as a consultant at Arizona State University. She sees it as an opportunity to work with others who are struggling with mental health problems. By emphasizing that Olympians are people too, she makes herself uniquely accessible to those in need of help.

Others take note. Schmitt achieved what Dara Torres, Jenny Thompson, Jill Sterkel and Amanda Beard did before her. She made it into the team and became a USA Olympic champion again. And just like the other greats, she does a fantastic job representing her country.

How to get help: In the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or write HOME to 741-741 to speak to a trained crisis advisor on the free crisis text hotline.

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