Nutrition Tips For Champion Swimmers On Race Day

swimming nutrition
  • #1: Make It A Habit

    Eating Like a champion is the same as racing like a champion…it takes practice. This is the most important tip. Waiting until race week to eat healthy will create headaches for you and your swimmer.

  • #2: No New Foods

    It’s all fun and games until somebody has diarrhea before a race. Eating the same foods might be boring, but it prevents surprise allergies or an upset stomachs to deal with.

  • #3: Plan Plan Plan

    There aren’t any rules that stop you from planning your meals in advance. Planning meals gives you one less thing to worry about.

  • #4: Get Ahead of Yourself

    Don’t just plan your meals. Go one step further and make them in advance. There is no shame in freezing a whole pan of lasagna.

  • #5: Don't Dictate, Collaborate

    The chances of your meals being received well increase drastically if your young one is involved in choosing them in advance.

  • #6: Use the Magic Pot

    One pot meals are huge time savers. Have a few recipes ready to go at all times. Just throw it all in and say the magic words.

  • #7: Timing Is Everything

    You can pack all the right snacks, but if they aren’t eaten at the right time they will hurt performance.

  • #8: Time the Carbs

    Eating carbs is like using tissue paper to start a fire. It will give you quick energy, but it won’t last long. 60 minutes out, all snacks should be high in carbs instead of protein. (see list at bottom of post).

  • #9: Know Your Carbs

    There are two types of carbs: simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs like sports drinks/fruit/candy are absorbed quickly and deliver a quick burst of energy (these bad part is that these carbs often come with high amounts of sugar). Complex carbs veggies/potatoes/pasta are better, but they take longer to breakdown.

  • #10: Shake It Up

    Throw in a nutrient rich shake before bedtime to help their muscles recover while they sleep.

  • #11: Regulate Breakfast

    Racing in the morning? Prepare a lighter breakfast. Racing later? Make it hearty

  • #12: Cut the sweets

    The only extra sweet thing swimmers should taste during a swim meet is victory.

  • #13: Keep It Raw

    Whenever you have the option, go for raw over processed foods. Processed foods often come with a lot of other ingredients “smuggled in”.

  • #14: Don't Give Concession

    A concession stand’s primary goal is to make money, not provide healthy eating options. Keep that in mind.

  • #15: Release the Grease

    If it’s fried, let it slide (not down your throat). If you have to fry something like eggs use olive oil.

  • #16: Don't get it Twisted

    Carbs are not the same as sugar. Just like carbs, sugary foods will give you a brief burst of energy, but it will let you down hard. Sometimes even at the end of a race.

  • #17: Watch your Drinks

    Speaking of sugar…Absolutely no sodas and soft drinks or energy drinks are allowed.

  • #18: Hold the Fiber

    Our bodies need fiber, but remember #7? Timing is everything. Save the foods high in fiber for dinner time.

  • #19: Read the Labels

    When choosing snacks, watch out for high amounts of sodium, sugar and caffeine. For example, cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, but it’s also a good source of sodium.

  • #20: Mix It Up

    Even the perfect snack gets boring after a while. Use a good variety of snacks and meals so that eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore.

  • #21: Powder It Up

    If you suspect a swimmer isn’t getting enough protein add some protein powder to a shake or something like coconut water. Don’t worry it won’t give them huge muscles overnight.

  • #22: Use Protein Power

    For a slow and steady burn include more protein at big meals to keep swimmers feeling full longer.

  • #23: Drink It Up

    Don’t wait too late to begin hydrating. It takes about 45 minutes to go from mildly dehydrated to normal hydration levels using pure water or gatorade.

  • #24: Don't Live In The Past

    Urine color only tells you if you were hydrated, not if you are hydrated. After drinking, excess water has to enter the bloodstream and be filtered by the kidneys so that by the time a swimmer is ready to go to the loo they can be in a dehydrated state.

  • #25: Keep Sippin'

    Feeling thirsty means a swimmer is already dehydrated. The goal is for swimmers to never have that feeling by continually sipping on liquids. The goal should be 6oz. every 15 minutes

  • #26: Sleep and Eat

    Remember, timing is everything. If a session runs really late don’t sacrifice quality sleep by eating late. Both are important for recovery.

  • #27: Eat Fresh or Frozen

    It is better to eat fresh veggies, but you can still get a lot of nutrition from frozen off-season vegetables. To keep the maximum amount of nutrients you should steam or microwave them.

  • #28: Go Super

    Know your superfoods and throw them into meals often: Kale, Spirulina, Acai, Goji Berries, Chia Seeds, Seaweed, Maca Powder, Hemp seeds…

  • #29: Count Calories

    Typically children need 1,500 – 2,400 calories but a young swimmer needs 2,700 – 3,600 calories every day. 55% of those calories should come from carbohydrates.

Food Examples

High in Carbs

  • Homemade Trail Mix
  • Sports Snack Bars
  • Coconut water
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Dried Fruit
  • Sports drinks
  • Dry Cereal
  • Bagels
  • Pretzels
  • Jams & Jellies
  • Fruit Juice
  • Applesauce
  • Potatoes

High in Protein

  • Beef jerky
  • Tuna
  • Any Nut Butter (Peanut, Almond…)
  • Hummus
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Greek yogurt
  • Milk
  • Corned Beef
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Soba noodles
  • Spirulina

Source of Both

  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Milk

Meal Examples


  • Whole wheat toast
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal (low fiber)
  • Whole grain pancakes
  • Protein shake
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit platter


  • Lean meat sandwich
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Veggies


  • Baked potato w. chili
  • Asparagus
  • Salmon
  • Eggplant parmigiana
  • Squash