This week, we spoke with Michael McNelis, a former D1 college swimmer who recently got into Masters Swimming as a way to treat his spinal injury. His results are amazing. We can’t wait to share Michael’s story with you, and hope that it encourages any injured athletes to swim more and recover quicker!

Michael McNelis 

Michael competed in the the 400 I.M. while swimming for Niagara University. 20 years later, he’s still hooked on that incredibly rigorous event. After taking a 20 year retirement from swimming, and working through a tough spinal injury, he’s back in the pool as a strong, and competitive Masters Swimmer.

“I started to creep back in the water a little over 3 years ago, got brave enough to compete in a Masters meet and at that point I was hooked again. For some insane reason, I still think the 400 I.M. is a good idea.”

Michael McNelis MySwimPro Butterfly

During his time off, Michael was lifting weights and playing in a men’s hockey league. After being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), an inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the vertebrae in your spine to fuse, doctors encouraged him to get back into swimming as a way to protect his spine and hips, and treat the condition. He calls it “dumb luck” that one of the best forms of exercise to treat and help AS is swimming, which happens to be a huge passion of his.

It’s also that same “dumb luck” that he stumbled across MySwimPro in 2015, when he was looking up swim workouts on the internet. In addition to his hard work in the pool, he claims the MySwimPro Training Plans have been critical in enhancing his ability to pursue the sport again.

“I dropped a whopping 16 seconds in my 400 I.M. (LCM) from 2016-2017”

Michael’s training is so impressive, check out his MySwimPro stats:

  • 1,381 kilometers
  • 591.4 hours
  • 432 workouts

MySwimPro Michael McNelis Fistpump

He’s using MySwimPro to get workouts and drill videos on his phone, and is challenging himself by swimming with Dynamic Intervals on his sets. He logs all his swims, and likes that he can monitor his progress by looking back on the data recorded in the app.

“Lots of variety, and lots of tough workouts. It’s a perfect fit for me”

Michael McNelis at swim meet - MySwimPro

More about Michael McNelis – @mikewhitehot400: 

Michael is 42 years old and lives and works in Rochester, NY as an attorney. He’s a Masters swimmer and trains with the Android MySwimPro app.

Health goals: “To be able to have a strong, and challenging exercise routine that’s within the confines of my spinal and hip limitations.”

Favorite time of day to swim: I feel refreshed and ready after a tough morning workout. It’s as important as my morning coffee.”

Greatest inspirations: “I heard a great saying and I like to repeat it “Even though I stand on the starting block alone, I didn’t get there by myself.” So many people have supported me, pushed me, challenged me and had a huge impact on helping me get to where I am in swimming and in life in general.”

Meet traditions: “I have a few meet traditions. One, I splash my body with water from the pool before every race. Always have. No idea why. The night before a meet, I work on the playlist. The songs vary depending on what events I chose. The most frequently appearing artists are 2Pac, Snoop, Biggie and Selena Gomez. Very random collection. And the most important tradition is after the meet, a group of us always find a place to have a beer or two to “rehydrate.”

Michael McNelis racing - MySwimPro

His words of advice?

“Don’t be afraid. Take risks, challenge yourself, leave your comfort zone. The best in life comes from fighting through the most difficult and trying of circumstances.”

You are crushing it, Michael! Thanks for sharing your #GoldMedalMoment, keep up the hard work, and swim fast in that 400 I.M.!

If you have a #GoldMedalMoment you would like to share with us, we’d love to hear it! Send us an email at

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