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Being ready for a meet, and getting yourself ready to race begins before you even get to the pool. Eating right and getting enough sleep are more important to ensuring a good performance than just about anything else you can do, not to mention being the easiest things you can do to help yourself get ready.


Not getting enough sleep can have a significant impact on things such as reaction time and accuracy, as well as mental resiliency, which is what helps us push ourselves when things feel tough. After reviewing hundreds of validated research studies about sleep, The National Sleep Foundation recommended children 6-13 years old need 9-11 hours of sleep each night, and that individuals who “have a high level of daily energy expenditure” (like at swim practice) may need even more.

Eating To Compete

Food is our fuel, so a diet with appropriate levels of both macro and micro nutrients not only helps us develop physically as we train, but going into an athletic performance helps us have the energy and physical means to perform at our best. A high carb meal several hours before physical activity generally has a positive impact on performance, as well as small snacks around an hour or two before any races.

How many calories does your swimmer need?

USDA recommends:

Girls Ages 9 to 13 - 1,600-2,000 calories per day

Ages 14 to 18- 1,800- 2,200 calories per day

Boys Ages 9 to 13 - 2,000 calories per day

Ages 14 to 18- 2,400- 2,800 calories per day

Swimmers need to add an additional 1200 calories per 2 hour practice.

What Types of Foods Do Your Swimmers Need?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: About 50% carbohydrates. About 30% protein The rest should come from healthy fats

Staying Hydrated

Hydration can have the most drastic impact of all, impacting almost every aspect of the body physically. Even mild dehydration can have a noticeable impact on athletic performance. At any point, more than half of your body weight is water, every bodily function, from injury prevention, to cognitive function, to even breathing, is directly affected by how hydrated the body is.

Studies show that being just slightly dehydrated- with a reduction of just 2% of fluids- can lower a swimmer's performance by as much as 20%.

When we actually get to the meet we can begin to think about how to get ourselves ready to swim in the moment.

Warming-up is essential for preparing the body physically to perform to the best of our ability. When we warm up, we want to raise our heart rate, increasing the flow of blood to the body, and priming the muscles to perform, as well as reinforcing the mind body connection, increasing the efficiency of our movements by activating the connections between our nerves and muscles.

Stretching behind the blocks helps us stay loose, increasing muscular range of motion by boosting the flexibility of the muscle, as well as providing a healthy distraction for a brief moment if we might be feeling anxious in then moment.

The purpose of the cool down is to return your heart rate close to resting. Studies continue to show improved performance for swimmers who cool down between races.

Cooling Down advantages:

  • Helps to eliminate lactate and other waste products accumulated during high-intensity exercise. Regulates blood flow.

  • Returning your heart rate to normal allows you to restore your physiological systems to baseline. Brings down your body temperature.

  • Improved flexibility.

  • Better recovery.

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