What to eat during swimming competitions

Competitive swimmer. Find out what to eat to boost performance during and after competitions.

When preparing to compete at a swimming competition you need to pay careful attention to nutrition. Here are some tips about what to eat during swimming competitions.

The day before

When competition time comes round, you’ll have plenty on your mind. So the day before the event keep exercise to a minimum – if anything at all – and eat meals and snacks high in complex carbohydrates. You need to keep those glycogen stores topped up.

  1. Drink fluids little and often to stay properly hydrated.
  2. Eat little and often – every two to four hours to keep your blood sugar levels steady and fuel your muscles in preparation for your event.
  3. Avoid big meals or over-eating in the evening – this will almost certainly make you feel uncomfortable and lethargic the next day.
  4. Try to stick to familiar foods. Curries, spicy foods, baked beans and pulses (unless you are used to eating them) can cause gas and bloating, so avoid eating anything that may cause stomach discomfort the next day. It’s best to stick to foods that you are familiar and compatible with!

The morning of the event

Don’t swim on empty. Even if you feel nervous, make breakfast happen. Stick to easily digested foods – cereal with milk, porridge, banana with yoghurt, some fruit or toast with jam.

If you’re really struggling, try liquid meals such as milkshakes, yoghurt drinks or a smoothie.

It’s a good idea to rehearse your competition meal routine in training so you know exactly what agrees with you.

Snacks between heats

Try to eat as soon as possible after your swim to give yourself as long as possible to recover if you have to swim again.

High fat and simple sugar foods will do you no favours in competition. Instead search out complex carbohydrates again.

If you can’t stomach anything solid try sports drinks, flavoured milk or diluted juice that will help replenish your energy supplies and assist the recovery of aching muscles.

The list below offers great food options to be snacking on in and around training for a competition. Remember to keep eating healthy foods from your regular diet though, such as fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits.

  • Water, diluted fruit juice with a pinch of salt or a sports drink
  • Pasta salad
  • Plain sandwiches e.g. chicken, tuna, cheese with salad, banana, peanut butter
  • Bananas, grapes, apples, plums, pears
  • Dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, mango
  • Smoothies
  • Crackers and rice cakes with bananas and/or honey
  • Mini-pancakes, fruit buns
  • Cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps
  • Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks
  • Small bags of unsalted nuts e.g. peanuts, cashews, almonds
  • Prepared vegetable crudités e.g. carrots, peppers, cucumber and celery

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