Think about what and how you eat.


  • Eat breakfast before you get to the pool, (approximately 2-3 hours before warm-up) this leaves time for the carbo fuel to get in! "breakfast tip"

  • This meal will top-up your blood sugar levels after the night’s rest.

  • The meal does not have to be large, but should fill you up for the next few hours.

  • High-carbohydrate foods are the best options: e.g., bread, cereals, fruit, pasta, rice and all grains

  • Ensure that the meal is low fat, this speeds up digestion.

  • Have a drink to optimise hydration: try sports drink, juice, or a liquid meal.

  • If you feel too nervous to eat, try a liquid meal (see later ).


  • After the warm-up, replace fluids immediately (within 20 minutes).

  • Sports drinks are ok as they replace fluids and carbohydrate simultaneously.

  • If there is less than 1 hour between races, just keep to fluid replacement.

  • If there is more than 1 hour between the warm-up and your first heat, try to eat a little.

  • The best approach is to eat a little and often during the day.

  • Eating and drinking a little and often will help to keep you “firing on all cylinders” all day.

  • Eating too much at once can make you feel heavy and lethargic.

  • Little top-ups are best – they also prevent you getting really hungry.


  • Try to eat in longer breaks (longer than 1 hour between races)

  • In shorter breaks, use a sports drink or water to replace fluids.

  • The indoor pool environment is humid and dehydrating.

  • Adequate fluids are essential all day to keep your blood and energy pumping.

  • If there is a longer break (a few hours) through the day, use it to eat a bit more.

  • Take your own high performance foods and drinks with you (don’t rely on the canteen).

  • A cold pack and thermos helps to keep foods and drinks fresh and pleasant.

  • To check that your hydration is ok your urine should look clear.

TOP-UP SNACKS BETWEEN RACES (breaks of 1-2 hours)

  • Snack fruits (small cans of fruit) or canned baby fruits.

  • Bananas (excellent for avoiding cramp).

  • Fruit that is peeled and cut up (easier to eat this way).

  • Plain bread rolls (white bread may be less heavy) – try pita bread!

  • Hot cross buns or raisin bread.

  • Plain or fruit scones.

  • Instant noodles (varieties that do not contain oil or the flavor sachet).

  • Jam or honey sandwiches.

  • Plain boiled pasta with a little tomato sauce.

  • Low-fat breakfast or plain muesli bar.

  • Plain crackers (not high-fat types).

  • Low fat yogurts.

Note: Choose smaller amounts if you only have just over 1 hour. In longer breaks you can afford to eat a little more.


  • Sports drink (e.g., fluid-replacement kind).

  • High-carbo drink (e.g., Lucozade Sport).

  • Your own fruit smoothie made with reduced-fat milk.


  • Sports drink (contain carbohydrate to boost energy as well).

  • Water (drink a cup every 15 – 20 minutes)

  • Fruit juices are fine, but should be well diluted.


  • Sandwiches with low-fat fillings (avoid butter and too much salad).
  • Pasta or rice with tomato pasta sauce (a little chicken or very lean meat in sauce is okay).



  • Have something to eat and drink immediately after your last swim.

  • Avoid the “fast food” chains on the way home – their high fat foods will delay recovery.

  • Have some high-carbo food ready so you can eat as soon as you arrive home.


The main source of energy during training is derived from carbohydrate, therefore, it is not surprising that high carbohydrate meals and drinks are essential to provide energy and facilitate recovery. The timing of meals and snacks, however, is important.

30 Minute Rule: The muscles are most susceptible to restoration of carbohydrate stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. Thereafter, the process becomes progressively more difficult. The swimmer should eat 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrate*, whilst keeping fat ingestion low, as soon as training finishes, and definitely within the first 30 minutes after training. The following are examples of appropriate snack foods and their approximate carbohydrate content:

  • An apple, banana or orange:   15-20g
  • Muller rice:   20g
  • Nutrigrain Elevenses bar:   25-30g
  • Fruit Shake or Smoothie:   25-30g per glass
  • 1 thick Jam or Honey sandwich (no or minimal butter):   50g
  • Malt Loaf (Soreen):   18g per eighth of a loaf
  • Fig Rolls:   13g per biscuit
  • Other excellent snacks: Rice cakes, dried fruit

* After high intensity training it may be appropriate ingest protein mixed with high carbohydrate. This may be achieved using known brand formulated drinks.

Morning Training:

Have a snack item (examples above) with fruit juice 30 minutes before training with breakfast after training.

Guidelines for event meals:

Before a race: High Carbohydrate/Low Fat meal 2-4 hours before the race.

Suitable types of food include: breakfast cereals, porridge, bread, rolls, toast, fruit juice, fruit, rice cakes, plain crackers, boiled rice, potatoes, boiled pasta, dried fruit, oatmeal biscuits, plain wholemeal biscuits, muffins and carbohydrate drinks. These are all examples of complex carbohydrates as these release energy slowly. Avoid simple carbohydrates (the sugars) as these release energy quickly but trigger the release of insulin, which can have a negative impact on performance.

A small snack (examples above) may be eaten about 30 minutes prior to the race.

If the interval between races is less than 30 minutes: The swimmer should drink fluids/juices or a sport drink.

If the interval between races is up to 1 hour: The swimmer should have a snack from the above list, with plenty of fluid, up to 30 minutes before the next race.

If the race interval is 1 to 2 hours: The swimmer should have a small high carbohydrate/low fat meal.

If the rest period between races is longer: then the swimmer should have a substantial meal no later than 2 hours before the next race (see before a race).

Important: As water is stored with carbohydrate it is essential that substantial amounts of fluid is drunk with meals and snacks.

This training guide was provided by White Dolphin Technology Ltd. web: e-mail: [email protected]


So we fell short of persuading our in-house nutrition and exercise scientist that sandwiches were a fantastic healthy snack to compliment your swimming.
But, to celebrate British Sandwich Week (15 – 21 May) we did get him to come up with a few great sandwich ideas to use as recovery food after a swim!
Eating after exercise is vital. Your body immediately needs nutrients to repair muscles and replace energy so it is recommended you refuel between 15 to 30 minutes after training.
Recovery food means carbohydrates to replace lost glycogen and provide the energy to synthesise protein which delivers amino acids to repair muscles and boost the immune system.

But it’s not an excuse to overeat – don’t refuel like an athlete unless you’ve trained like one.
So, without further ado, here are the dos and don’ts for your perfect swimming recovery sarnie!


  • Two slices of bread will suffice – remember this is a recovery snack.

  • DO eat whole wheat or whole grain bread in your sandwich.

  • DON’T eat white bread in your sandwich.

It’s a simple case of carbohydrate differences – whole wheat and whole grain bread contain your dose of starchy, complex carbs which longer for your body to synthesise than the simple carbs in white bread.


  • DO opt for sparingly applied natural butter if you’re using spread.

  • DON’T use your typical supermarket branded margarine or salted butter.

  • A small amount of flavoured spread like mayonnaise or mustard is fine but make sure it’s low fat and again use sparingly.

Many marketed spreads and margarine brands are created from vegetable oil which usually means they will be high in trans fats or partially hydrogenated fats which create massive blood vessel inflammation and inhibit your recovery.
Instead opt for your natural butter which contains essential fatty acids which actually HELP the body burn fats as well as stimulating muscle recovery and metabolism.


  • DO go for a main filling which is high in lean protein. These include chicken breast, beef, tuna, organic peanut butter or free range eggs.

  • DO NOT use cheap, processed meats like packaged ham or processed cheese.

It’s all about the lean protein with your main filling and the above foods are full of it. Processed meat contains e-numbers and chemicals so the best type of meat is a quality cut – preferably by your own hand!
Organic peanut butter is a fantastic filling because it doubles up with protein and essential fatty acids. Finally, buy free range eggs which have a hugely improved biological value than those from battery-caged hens (the practice of which will become illegal in 2012).


  • DO throw any type of salad or vegetables in your sandwich.

  • DO use cheese – but as a secondary filling.

  • DO use a sprinkle of black pepper.

Lots of dos and not so many don’ts for secondary fillings! Raw salad and vegetables are full of nutrients, anti-oxidants and fibrous carbs so take your pick!
Cheese is fine (not the processed packaged ‘fake’ cheese you see on American cheeseburgers) but try and make it low fat and not the primary filling. Finally, a sprinkle of black pepper will raise your internal body temperature and speed up the fat burning process.