Nutrition Resources from British Swimming

Ideal snacks for pre-training session needs

Breakfast ideas for prior to early morning sessions

Basics on Hydration

Nutrition and Drinks

COPS Recommended Competition Cuisine for members at Stay-over meets or Regional and National Competition


  • Order pancakes, waffles, French toast, bagels, cereal, English muffins, fruit or juice. These foods are all high in carbohydrates.
  • Avoid high-fat choices, such as bacon, sausages or biscuits and gravy.
  • Pack containers of dry cereal, crackers, juice or dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots; or pack fresh fruit such as apples or oranges in case the restaurant does not provide these items.
  • If you eat breakfast at a fast food restaurant, choose foods like cereal, fruit juice and muffins or pancakes, instead of breakfast sandwiches.
  • Examples of high carbohydrate breakfast meals:
    • Orange juice
    • Fresh fruit
    • Low fat yogurt
    • Pancakes with syrup
    • 2% milk or skimmed milk
  • Or
    • Plain English muffin
    • Strawberry jam
    • Scrambled egg
    • Orange juice
    • 2% milk or skimmed milk

Breakfast at fast food restaurants:

  • Hot cakes with syrup (hold the margarine and sausage)
  • Orange juice
  • Low fat milk


  • Cold cereal with low fat milk
  • Orange juice
  • Apple, bran or blueberry muffin


Breakfast at grocery stores and family style restaurants

  • Fruit flavoured yogurt
  • Large bran muffin or pre-packaged muffins
  • Banana
  • Orange juice
  • Low fat milk


  • Pancakes, waffles, French toast with syrup (hold the margarine, bacon and sausage)
  • Orange juice
  • Low fat milk


Lunch and Dinner

  • Choose restaurants that offer pastas, breads and salads
  • Order thick crust rather than thin crust pizza for more carbohydrates
  • Order vegetables on the pizza. Avoid high fat toppings such as pepperoni and sausage.
  • Order vegetable soups accompanied by crackers, bread or muffins
  • Emphasize the bread in sandwiches, not the filling, mayonnaise or chips.
  • Avoid deep fat fried foods
  • Choose low fat milk or fruit juices 


Packing for competitions

  • Dry cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Water


Snacks for Competition and After Training

  • Sandwiches (try bananas/jam/honey)
  • Rolls/pitta bread
  • Muesli bars and dried fruit bars
  • Popcorn
  • Fresh/dried/canned fruit
  • Rusks or dried cereals
  • Current buns/tea cakes/Malt loaf/Raisin bread
  • Sesame snacks
  • Sesame sticks
  • Fruit cake
  • Plain type biscuits, e.g. rich tea/digestive/garibaldi/fig rolls
  • Pop tarts
  • Jelly cubes
  • Scones/muffins/brioche/crumpets
  • Bowl cereal
  • Toast
  • Carton low fat rice pudding
  • Low fat fruit yogurts
  • Crispbreads/rice cakes/crackers
  • Slice pizza (thick base)
  • Bread pudding/cheese buns/scotch pancakes


  • Sweets, such as Haribo, fruit gums, pastilles, etc. All are slow to digest and only give a short spike of energy.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks or ice drink. All are high in sugars


Pre-Competition Meals

Pre-competition breakfast (2-4 hours before event) 

  • Breakfast cereal or porridge with low fat milk and fresh fruit
  • Toast or bread with ham or honey; low fat yogurt
  • English muffins with honey or jam

Pre-competition lunches (2-4 hours before event)

  • Sandwiches or rolls with tuna, cottage cheese or chicken; fresh fruit
  • Pasta or rice with tomato-based sauce; fresh fruit
  • Baked potato with low fat filling; fresh fruit

Pre-competition snacks (1 hour before event)

  • Fruit mixtures, e.g. apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, kiwi fruit
  • Dried apricots
  • Low fat fruit yogurt or rice pudding
  • Mini or scotch pancake


Guidelines for eating between heats and events

Less than one hour

  • Sports drinks
  • Carbohydrate supplements
  • Soft drinks (diluted fruit juice and cordial)
  • Bananas and raisins
  • Energy bars
  • Jelly cubes
  • Plain biscuits
  • Rice cakes
  • Nuts

2-4 hours

  • Sandwiches filled with honey, jam, bananas
  • Current buns/tea cakes
  • Bagels/muffins/crumpets
  • Scones/scotch pancakes
  • Toast/toasted sandwiches
  • Popcorn
  • Canned fruit or dried fruit
  • Low fat rice pudding
  • Pasta and tomato type sauce
  • Jacket potato
  • Rice


Between Races

The length of time between races, as well as individual preferences, will determine your food selection. As a general rule, if there is less than one hour between races, your choice will be limited to drinks rather than food. If you have longer and are sure that you are able to tolerate food, then select carbohydrate rich meals or snack to boost energy levels.


It is vital to continue to drink throughout the day. Carry a drinks bottle with you at all times. Always drink before you feel thirsty.

Which drink is best?

  • Squash/diluted fruit juice
  • Water
  • Glucose drinks

Drink as little as possible of these

  • Fizzy drinks
  • Caffeine