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What you should eat before, during and after a swim meet

Swimming workouts help you perfect your technique and endurance which will improve your performance. With training and dryland exercises strength will increase which will also contribute to improved performance. The benefits of good nutrition are not as easily seen as are the results from conditioning and training. However, nutrition can be the weak link in keeping you from reaching your potential, or it can be a factor that enhances your performance at a swim meet. The nutrition programme should involve a plan for what to eat before, during and after a swim meet.

Before A Meet

Nervous tension is usually part of any swimming competition. Your stomach feels unsettled and eating is not attractive. Stress and tension cause a decrease in your blood flow to your stomach and small intestine, slowing down activity and increasing acid in your stomach. You may feel like you have butterflies in your stomach, or that it is tied in a knot. Since individuals have different feelings and reactions to the same food, it is difficult to give a specific menu. However, there are some general guidelines:-

Choose food that is high in carbohydrates since the stomach can break this food down fast (eg, potatoes, grains, bread, cereal, rice). It is strongly recommended that chips, potato crisps or any fried food are not included in your diet before a meet.

  • Choose foods that are low in fat and protein. Avoid bacon, sugary cereals, croissants, too much butter and margarine.
  • Choose fresh fruit, canned fruits in their own juices and dried fruits like raisins, dates, figs, apples and apricots.
  • Drink water. It is vital for top performance because dehydration causes fatigue, grogginess and muscle cramps. Drink approximately one cup of water every hour before you race and sip water between races. Do not drink fizzy drinks, such as Coke or Pepsi. Water or a diluted squash solution is best.
  • Try to eat a small meal 2½ to 4 hours before a swim meet because you should have an
    empty stomach when you compete. Avoid greasy foods because your stomach cannot
    break down the fat fast enough and you will have food in your stomach while competing.

During The Meet

During the competition, the major goal is trying to keep hydrated and maintain energy
levels. Drink one or two cups of water, or drink small amounts regularly because your
stomach can absorb only one quart of fluid in an hour.

Over the hours at a meet, you need to supply energy from carbohydrates to maintain your energy stores. Food such as muffins, bread, biscuits, fresh fruit, canned fruit in its own juices and dried fruits such as raisins, dates and apples can replenish your energy supply.

Again foods like chips, cheese, fizzy drinks, doughnuts and sweets go against what your
body needs. Salt reduces water levels in your during the meet. Fizzy drinks and coffee
contain caffeine which dehydrates the body.

After the Meet

After the meet it is very important to eat properly. You have to replace the fluid lost during the meet, and you have to replace carbohydrates or glycogen stored in your liver and muscles. Remember if you do not replace your energy stores you will feel like nothing on earth when you get up the next day to continue racing or training. Eat your way to a great meet!!