Nutrition and Hydration

In order to obtain the best out of their sport, swimmers must be ‘fed and watered’ well.


Below are listed some foods that should provide all that a swimmer requires, as well as some to be avoided. Remember that it is often better to eat more often and in smaller quantities rather than the traditional three meals a day. Most important of all, though, is to eat the correct foods.

Sportsmen and women need carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals (especially iron) in order to train and perform well.

Carbohydrates are obtained from pasta, breads, cereals, potatoes, rice, beans and pulses. If you have a sweet tooth, try to find sweetness in dried fruit, fruit juices, fresh fruit and honey, not from sweets, fizzy drinks, ice creams and chocolates, ie junk food!

Proteins are available in meat, fish, eggs, pulses, beans, nuts and dairy foods including milk and cheese.

Vitamins are all important, especially the B-group vitamins. They are found in fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy foods and fortified breakfast cereals.

Minerals, especially iron, are also found in fresh fruit and vegetables and many breakfast cereals.

Swimmers should be aiming to eat roughly five smaller meals rather than three large meals per day. Typical examples would be

Breakfast: the most important meal of the day! Don’t miss it, especially if you have trained early in the morning. Try cereals including muesli and porridge, but not sugar-coated varieties, bread (preferably wholemeal), fruit (dried or fresh), fruit pieces, honey and milk.

Mid-morning snack: particularly for those who have trained in the early morning. Try sandwiches, fruit, milk, yoghurts etc. Avoid biscuits, crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks as they add little to your nutrition and rot your teeth!

Lunch: try to eat a selection of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals as above, whether as a school meal, packed lunch or at home.

After-school snack: have this between school and evening training sessions, to fill the gap before the evening meal.

Evening meal: A hot, sustaining meal containing meat, fish, eggs or pulses, fresh vegetables and fruit.


Swimmers need liquid, and lots of it! Water should be the main source, plus fruit juices etc. ‘Sports’ powders containing the necessary nutrients make a useful addition to drinks bottles during training.

Every swimmer must bring a drink to every training session – and drink it! Remember no glass bottles on poolside and no fizzy drinks.