High Level Nutritional Information


There are different types of ‘fuel’ – the prime one being;


(Carbs) are key; however, there are two types;

  •  Simple   = cakes, buns, chocolate, fruit, sweets…

These provide a ‘Quick fix’ therefore you can take a small level of these around 1-2 hours before a swim if you need an energy burst - but it doesn’t last.

  • Complex = pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals, veg…

These are the best source of energy and give you lasting energy which you store in your body and are slow release – so you will have more energy for longer.


Protein and Calcium (for development)

  • Males are growing and developing until they are around 21
  • Females are growing and developing until they are around 18
  • With training there is an increased need for protein and calcium.
  • Aim for a pint of milk a day, or ½ pint and 2 yoghurts

All swimmers should follow a low-fat diet. Having low fat levels help us move through the water faster! Saturated fat is everywhere – and in many ways, cannot be avoided - but there are simple approaches of reducing our intake.


Tips to reduce Saturated Fat

  • Choose low fat milk, cheese, yoghurt.
  • Avoid fried foods and takeaways.
  • Grill meats; don’t always eat fat & chicken skin.
  • Use margarine thinly.
  • Choose low fat biscuits and snacks.
  • Read & use food labels to eat low fat – all the info is there.



Before training

Fuel up: Eat a meal 2–3 hours before training (carb & protein & some low fat)

Hydrate properly: Drink 200 – 300ml 2h before swimming

Suitable pre-training meals:

  • Jacket potato with cheese, tuna or baked beans plus veg
  • Pasta with tomato-based sauce or pesto; cheese, tuna or chicken; plus veg
  • Rice with chicken, fish or beans plus veg
  • One pot dish with pulses, veg, lean meat or fish PLUS potatoes or pasta
  • Sandwich/ toast with tuna, cheese, chicken or peanut butter


If you don’t have time for a meal (e.g. early morning training), have a snack 30 min before training with 200 – 300 ml water. You should NEVER train on empty! You will feel better.

Pre-training snacks

  • Toast (wholegrain) with honey or jam
  • A banana (or other fresh fruit)
  • A handful of dried fruit (e.g. raisins, apricots)
  • A cereal bar
  • Porridge or wholegrain breakfast cereal with milk

During training

Prevent dehydration: drink plenty
Refuel (if training hard for > 1 hour): carbs

  • drink around 300 – 500 ml per hour
  • drink little and often, ideally every 15 – 20 minutes
  • If training for 1 hour: water or sugar free squash

For training sessions lasting longer than 1 hour, swimmers could find that consuming additional fuel (in the form of a drink or as food), helps maintain their performance and delays fatigue.

Suitable drinks include:

  • Squash (diluted at least 1 to 6) – regular or ‘high juice’ squash
  • Diluted fruit juice (diluted at least 1 to 1)
  • Isotonic sports drinks (expensive and not really necessary!)
  • Water – plus a snack (see below)

Mid-training snacks (training over 1.5 - 2 hours):

  • A banana
  • A cereal or granola bar
  • A handful (40 – 50g) of raisins or other dried fruit

These foods should be accompanied by a drink of water!

Avoid the following (they are too concentrated in sugars and lack useful nutrients):

  • Sweets
  • Jelly cubes or jelly sweets
  • ‘Energy’ tablets or glucose tablets
  • Energy drinks

After training

Re-hydrate: drink straight away (water or diluted juice)
Refuel: carb & protein snack within 30 min

  • 500 ml milk, milk shake or flavoured milk
  • One banana plus a handful of nuts
  • 2 pots (2 x 150g) of fruit yoghurt
  • One cereal bar plus 1 pot of fruit yoghurt
  • Wholemeal sandwich or toast with peanut butter or cheese



Ideal food for all-day lunchboxes

  • Fresh fruits e.g. Bananas, grapes, apples, plums, pears, berries etc.
  • Dried fruits e.g. raisins, apricots, mango
  • Crackers or rice cakes with bananas
  • Mini-pancakes, fruit buns
  • Cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps, elevenses, fruit and fibre bars, nutri-grain bars.
  • Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks (Low sugar)
  • Small bags of unsalted nuts e.g. peanuts, cashews, almonds etc. Nature Valley Peanut protein bars are good
  • Prepared vegetable nibble e.g. carrots, peppers, cucumber, celery etc.
  • Low fat milkshakes
  • Fruit smoothie made with milk/ yoghurt
  • Milk – helps to replenish lactate lost in competitions.
  • Greek yoghurt with fruit and/or granola
  • Malt loaf (with natural butter is fine but not margarine)


Some ideas for a balanced lunchbox.

  1. Chicken and vegetable pasta with tomato sauce, Greek yoghurt, strawberries, cashew nuts, banana, and a fruit bun.
  2. Tuna and sweetcorn salad in a wholemeal baguette, milkshake, two clementines, unsalted mixed nuts, fig roll, carrot sticks and dip.
  3. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches on wholemeal, apple, raisins, yoghurt drink, chunk of cheese, small malt loaf.


We know that these are not all 100% practical – but notice that Haribo is not mentioned! Although a few of these (or jelly babies) in the run up before a race is not a bad thing!



Nutrition for Competition – BASIC 6 STEPS


  • What we eat 1-2 days before the comp that counts
  • Increase portion size slightly
  • High carb meal the night before
  • High carb breakfast
  • Increase fluid
  • Plenty of sleep (9-10 hours) for a couple of days in advance



Recovery advice – BASICS


The sooner after training/competition the better;

  • Eat or drink – as soon as your body feels able to take food or drink.
  • If you know it’s a while before tea, be prepared; milkshakes, sports drinks, cereal bars, fruit should all be in your Kit bags.