Preparing for a swimming event in which you'll be racing several times in one day requires a well-planned nutrition strategy. Ensuring your fuel (glycogen) stores are fully stocked and you body properly hydrated will help you put in your best performance
What you eat and drink the week before and on the day can make a big difference to your performance

The Week Before

Eating a balanced diet is all you need to do the week before a competition

Focus on the nutritional quality (nutrient-density) of your diet by minimising sugar and refined carbohydrates

Cut down on ‘junk’ food and sugary snacks

Carbohydrate loading is not relevant for most swimming competitions, unless you plan to race a 5k +

The Day Before

Plan your meals and snacks carefully, and keep properly hydrated

Stick to plain and familiar foods. Avoid anything you don’t normally eat, like spicy foods, fibrous veg as they may have an adverse effect

Make sure you keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, use the ‘wee test’ to test

 Have small meals every 2-4 hours for efficient glycogen fuelling. Avoid big meals or over-eating during the evening.

Competition Day

2-4 Hours Before

Hydrate! Drink 350 – 500ml of water, cordial, squash or diluted fruit juice

Drink another 125 – 250ml just before the race

Schedule your pre-race meal approximately 2 – 4 hours before the race start time

Pre-event snacks

Porridge with honey

Banana and yoghurt

Toast with honey, plus a glass of milk

Cereal with fruit and milk

Between Events

Try to re-hydrate and refuel as soon as you have finished a race or warm-up

 If you can’t face solid food have diluted cordial/fruit juice to allow you body to take on some carbohydrates

Don’t eat anything that you haven’t tried during training

Refuelling snacks

Fresh fruit: banana, pineapple, melon, apple, satsuma

Dried fruit, raisins and nuts

Rice cakes, granola bar, homemade flapjacks

Yoghurt, flavoured milk

Light Meals

If you are racing all day with events in both the morning and afternoon, schedule a light meal or lunch 2 – 4 hours before the start of the afternoon session. It should be rich in carbohydrate and also contain protein

→ Pasta or rice. Any combination of veg (peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, sweetcorn), nuts, tuna, chicken, cheese. Add either a tomato based sauce or pesto

→ Sandwiches, wraps, rolls, pitta. Fill with chicken; tuna; cheese; peanut butter.

After the event

Your preparation for your next day’s events starts the moment the previous one has finished. So you must re-fuel and re-hydrate as soon as possible

→ Have 250 – 500 ml of water within 30 minutes of finishing your event

→ Kick-start your recovery by eating a carbohydrate-protein snack within 30 minutes after your event – this increases glycogen storage and helps muscles repair faster

→ Your dinner should be contain carbohydrate and protein as well as some fat. Try pasta with chicken and vegetables or a jacket potato with tuna and ratatouille

→ Avoid the temptation to feast on fast foods


⊗ Load up with sweets and sugary drinks (or energy drinks) all day!

⊗ Starve or leave long gaps between refuelling

⊗ Eat or drink anything new

⊗ Eat high fat foods like cakes, crisps and chips before the event