by Coach Connor Ganley
Hello Taylor Village Tigerfish swimmers and families!
A few parents have asked me about nutrition for their swimmers before and during our weekly meets. As an athlete, I know firsthand the importance of having good nutrition and its effect on performance in and out of the pool. I would love to share with all of you some tips that I have come across in my days as a swimmer.
First of all, food is fuel! What you put into your body is what you get out of it. In other words, if you put good food into your body, you will get some good swims out. With this in mind, I would like to share with you some eating tips for the hours leading up to a meet.
The Night Before: Have a Good Dinner!
I recommend having whole grain pasta (high in carbohydrates) with sauce and some chicken (high in protein) and vegetables. The important idea to keep in mind during this meal is to eat protein and carbohydrates. Pasta and chicken is only one of the many ways to do this. Another way is some variation of rice and beans. Even pancakes and eggs will work! Keep in mind that while any kind of pasta or flour will do, the whole grain variety offers more lasting energy for athletes. However, regular pasta will certainly suffice for even the pickiest of eaters.
The Morning Of:
Eat breakfast! This is probably the most important thing that will help an athlete before a competition. Swimming (or just exercising in general) is no fun on an empty stomach! Not only that, but your body cannot perform very well if it does not have enough fuel. If you are going on a long road trip, you certainly wouldn’t forget to put gas in your car! Similarly, if you are going to spend all morning at a swim meet, you should “fill up your tank” before you get there! For this meal, I recommend things like a whole-wheat bagel or whole grain toast and a side of your favorite fruit. The point of this meal is to provide your body with a lot of carbohydrates before you exercise, so that your muscles can work to the best of their ability. Additionally, the point of this meal should not be to stuff yourself, but just to provide you with enough fuel to last the morning.
During the Meet:
Stay hydrated! Don’t go hungry! Water is the best thing in my opinion to stay hydrated. On a particularly hot and humid day, some watered-down Gatorade can be useful to replenish all the electrolytes you lose due to sweat. The point of watering it down is because it is so high in sugar, and your body does not need all that sugar at once. One of my favorite things to do if I am drinking Gatorade (which is not too often) is make a mixture of half-Gatorade, half-water. That way, I can stay hydrated while still replacing the electrolytes I need. You should bring snacks to the meet so that you can keep fueling your body as the morning wears on. I recommend some light, healthy snacks such as nuts, trail mix, bananas, orange slices, dried fruit, granola bars, or a small sandwich. Again, similar to breakfast, the purpose of these snacks is not to fill you up. These snacks are meant to provide your body with quick, fast energy that will help you swim fast during the meet. Tacos-in-a-bag should only be an after-meet celebration type of food, not in between your swims! Same goes for candy! Don’t get me wrong, I love taco-in-a-bag more than anyone, but eating that, or a hot dog, or a hamburger, or nachos, or 3 donuts in between your swims is not going to help you. Take it from someone who’s done it. Finally, as it is the middle of summer time, it is very important that you try to save energy during the meet itself by staying out of direct sunlight as much as possible. The sun will sap almost as much energy out of you as a hard swim will, so it is important to stay in the shade so the sun doesn’t sap your energy.
- Eat Dinner
- Carbohydrates and protein
- Vegetables never hurt anybody
- Eat breakfast
- Carbohydrates (whole wheat is great)
During the meet
- Stay hydrated
- Snack occasionally
- Stay cool!
Celebration is allowed (and certainly encouraged after a hard day’s work), but it is best after you are completely done swimming
I hope this was able to provide at least a little bit of help. I am by no means any kind of nutritionist or dietician, but those are just some of the most important tips I’ve learned in my 11 years of swimming. If you have any questions about anything at all, I would be more than happy to answer them. See you all poolside.