What can two elite swimmers teach you about excelling at work? A lot, actually

Who: Madison Kennedy and Roy Burch have spent most of their lives training for something that lasts less than a minute. The Charlotte-based swimmers are elite freestyle sprinters, with Burch, 31, swimming for Bermuda in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and Kennedy, 29, finishing third in the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016. The two joined us at last week’s 35 Below event to talk about the elite mindset, and what it takes to do something — anything, really — at such a high level.

We recorded the conversation for this week’s CharlotteFive Podcast.

What: It takes time and dedication to become an elite athlete, just like it takes time and dedication to succeed at your job, or your passion project, or side-hustle, or anything you want to do well. Burch and Kennedy talked about how to handle success and failure in the pool and the workplace.

Both have faced setbacks: Kennedy missed the Olympics by fifteen-hundredths of a second and Burch had to bounce back from a rare injury that kept him sidelined for six months. Both have other responsibilities, balancing family and day jobs with hours of training.

Roy Burch Jeff Siner

Madison Kennedy
Madison Kennedy John D. Simmons

Burch and Kennedy shared tips and lessons they’ve learned in swimming that you can use in everyday life.

Anything else? 

– Want to learn more about the 35 Below speaker series? Click here or email Jen Rothacker ( to find out how your company can get involved.

The CharlotteFive Podcast — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast that aims to get you Charlotte Smart, Fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s hosted by Corey Inscoe and Sallie Funderburk, and produced by Richard Brooke and 2Waves Media.

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Photos: John D. Simmons; Jeff Siner