Training Advice

Diet & Nutrition

When training and competing it is important that swimmers eat a balanced nutritional diet. The guide below is written specifically for swimmers focusing on dietary requirements for training, pre, during & post-competition, please take time to read it. For further information there is nutritional guidance from the Sports Council of Wales.

Hydration During Training

Most swimmers only replace  30%-70% of fluids lost during training; 1-3 litres of sweat per hour can be lost in public pools.

A 1% loss in body weight through fluid brings about deteriorating performance – anything over a 3% loss and the participant’s health is at risk.

It is therefore vital that swimmers have at least 500mls of fluid 1-2 hours before training or competition and another 250mls/500mls in the immediate 30 minutes prior to training/competition. Aim for swimmers to have at least 200-250mls every 20 minutes of high intensity training.

The best drinks pre and during training/competition are the Maxim type powdered drinks mixed with water to 65% of the suggested amount on the label – and add some blackcurrant squash to improve the taste. These drinks contain carbohydrates etc. Water is too thin, and Lucozade type drinks are too thick unless watered down. However after training Lucozade type drinks are good recovery drinks.

Can everyone please try to make sure that swimmers come to training with the right amount of fluid etc..No swimmer will be allowed to get out of the pool until they have drunk a minimum of 400mls per hour of training.


Preparing for Competition

An athlete’s goal at a competition is to perform to an optimal level and a range of factors can impair performance and this includes NUTRITION.

Common nutritional factors, which are associated with a decline in performance, include: depletion of glycogen in active muscles, dehydration and gastro intestinal discomfort.

Athletes should set aside 24-36hrs from the last training session to the competition to normalise food stores, eating meals which are high in carbohydrate (low GI foods) and low in fat. Athletes should normally try to drink up to two litres of water a day; this is especially important during the week leading up to the competition, so the risk of dehydration is minimised.

Pre-Event Nutrition Guide

Pre-event meal (night before the competition): Aim to top up glycogen stores.

The pre-event meal should be high in carbohydrate and low in fat: Ideas include pasta with low fat sauce, rice, sandwiches or rolls or jacket potatoes and beans

Avoid foods, which are high in salt, fried food especially takeaways, and foods which the athlete is not used to.

Try to consume plenty of fluids the evening before the competition, maybe with the meal. Try o drink squashes, milk or fruit juices and avoid caffeine-containing drinks, which can lead to dehydration the evening before the competition.

Pre-event meal (Day of the Competition)

After an eight hour fast breakfast is the most important meal before a competition. Cereals are high in carbohydrate, quick and easy, iron rich calcium rich and low in fat and cholesterol. Avoiding breakfast will lead to depleted glycogen stores and the increased risk of fatigue!

Other alternatives include: Bagels, English muffins, spread whole-wheat toast with jam and fresh fruits. And include with fresh fruit juice or squash to maintain adequate hydration

Pre-event meal (4hrs before the competition)

This should be eaten largely for comfort and for confidence!
Eat foods, which the athlete is used to and comfortable with, don’t try anything new before a competition, practice first before a intense training session.
It should also aim to re-fuel and rehydrate –

  • Carbohydrate Rich, low in fat and fibre
  • Low GI- release energy slowly

Try to aim to drink 300-600ml with the pre-event meal and then 150-300ml of fluid up to the event, or try to take sips of fluid on a regular basis, but beware you can drink too much whilst waiting for the competition!

(Monitor urine colour and volume for hydration checks – should be pale in colour. Urine, which is dark yellow/brown colour and small in volume, is a sign of dehydration!)

Include carbohydrate rich foods and drinksIdeas:

  • Plain breakfast cereal with low fat milk and fruit
  • Porridge with low fat milk and fruit juice
  • Toast, Muffins and crumpets with jam or honey
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Spaghetti and low fat tomato sauce
  • Jacket potato and beans
  • Low fat breakfast bar and a banana
  • Roll or sandwich with a low fat filling
  • Fresh fruit salad with low fat yoghurt

Nutrition and Hydration After Exercise

Immediate carbohydrate intake will help to increase the restoration of the glycogen stores after exercise (approx 1-1.5g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight should be aimed to be consumed immediately after exercise and then 7-10g per kg of body mass over the next 24hrs). This is especially important if competing the next day or training.

There is the ‘open window’ effect: for 30min after training or competition, this is the time where the replacement of glycogen is at its maximum.

For glycogen replacement after exercise focus on foods, which are rich in carbohydrate especially high GI foods.

For hydration after the event, try not to rely on thirst as a sign of need: feeing thirsty is a sign of dehydration. Drinks, which ‘you like the taste of’, will more readily promote hydration. Try not to drink plain water, if so; include a pinch of salt, which will promote the uptake of water. Avoid caffeine-containing drinks.

After a competition, try to consume one of the following which provides approximately 50gms of carbohydrate:

  • 2-3 medium pieces of fruit
  • 1 round of honey or jam sandwiches
  • 1 large mars bar
  • 2 cereal bars
  • Baked potato with beans
  • Bowel of breakfast cereal with milk
  • 150g thick crust pizza

Factors that Influence training

Physical Factors

These are medical and illness related factors:

  • Colds and flu – cause a shortness of breath and feelings of fatigue
  • Asthma – affects breathing if not properly controlled
  • Anaemia – usually due to a lack of iron which is important in oxygen carrying due to haemoglobin within the red blood cells
  • Hayfever – causes your nose to run and makes you sneeze and cough, affecting your breathing
  • Fatigue – not having enough rest or overdoing things can cause you to feel permanently tired
  • Lack of sleep – not enough sleep means you can’t concentrate properly and feel weak and tired
  • Menstruation – women perform better at different stages of their menstrual cycle
  • Physical ability – your training, fitness and skill levels will all impact on your performance

Psychological Factors

These are factors related to the way you are thinking and your state of mind:

  • Mental preparation – relaxation techniques and imagery can help prepare the athlete for competition
  • Mental ability – your ability to concentrate and make good decisions
  • Experience – a more experienced competitor will know how to prepare themselves mentally

External Factors

These are things that are largely beyond our control:

  • Environment – the weather can affect your performance either positively or negatively. For example a good wind will improve a sailors performance but may impair a tennis players performance
  • Equipment – better equipment will help your performance, but even then sometimes equipment can go wrong!
  • Technology – the use of technology in sport is increasing with the use of better equipment and video and computer technology for technique analysis
  • Other players – an opponents or team mates performance can have an affect on our own. For example a team mate performing well may inspire us to do the same
  • Officials – a poor decision from an umpire or referee can either spur us on to perform better or make us think there is no point trying.

Land Based Training

If you cannot get to the pool jogging or skipping are a good way of maintaining fitness levels. As with all exercises please ensure that you carry them out safely and within your capabilities.

Why not use a combination of skipping and other exercises such as burpees, star jumps.

HVSC are currently holding Land Training sessions in EbbwVale Thursday evenings 6:30 to 7:15 cost is £1 for the session.