1,068 days before the start of the Summer 2016 Olympics, Bob Bowman, head coach of the record-breaking USA men’s swim team, coached Michael Phelps since age 11, and multiple Olympic athletes totaling over thirty gold medals, handed out a sheet of paper to each swimmer in his Baltimore aquatics training center. On it, he planned each day for each of the fifteen athletes over the next three years leading up to the Rio Games. The only thing he left out? “Well, we’d let them determine when they would call home to their parents, when they would go to the bathroom, and when they would walk their dogs,” Bowman recalls in The Golden Rules, an autobiographical account of his approach to gold-medal training. Phelps, Bowman’s archetypal protégé, went on to complete his epic run as the “Greatest Olympian of All-Time” by winning five gold medals and a silver at Rio, before retiring ahead of calls for Tokyo 2020.

Bowman’s strategy continues to evolve. For the 2024 Olympics, he has been instrumental in coaching Léon Marchand, a rising star in swimming who broke Michael Phelps’ last remaining individual world record in the 400m IM. “We also have built in a system of routines that are basically automatic at this meet. All he needs to know is when the events start and that lets him know when he is going to warm up, what he’s going to do when,… it has be part of your DNA,” Bowman explains. Bowman’s approach focuses on aligning training with athletes’ natural body clocks, ensuring optimal performance.

Over the last nine years, Owaves has had the privilege to research and/or interview over fifty Olympians, Paralympians and Olympic and Paralympic candidates with totals of well over a hundred Olympic and Paralympic medals combined. A high-level sampling of this research is illustrated below. While idiosyncrasies among the top-tier athletes can be observed with a fine-toothed comb and magnifying glass; the overall picture that emerges upon this study is more startlingly consistent.

What do you see in the infographic below that is startlingly consistent among the athletes? How many night owls can you spot? Are there any key differences worth noting?