From USA Swimming "Catch the Spirit" LSC Camps Team Meetings Manual

Swimming fast is a result of hard training, dedication and making wise food choices. The type of food a swimmer eats may influence how they compete in the water. The key to nutrition and swimming is to make sure that you have eaten enough carbohydrates before the competition starts, not the day before the meet. It may take 24-72 hours to fully reload the muscles with energy (glycogen). It is important for swimmers to consume meals high in carbohydrates at least 2-3 DAYS before the start of a meet, or performance will deteriorate and even an easy workout or race may cause fatigue. It is often difficult for swimmers who are traveling to find nutritious meals that are high in carbohydrates. Fast-food restaurants are often chosen because they are convenient and affordable. To ensure that swimmers make wise food choices while on the road, a coach or swimmer can decide where to eat before mealtime, making sure the restaurant offers choices from all four food groups, while concentrating on high carbohydrate meals. Use the following guidelines in choosing meals while traveling:

BREAKFAST:Order pancakes, waffles, french toast, bagels, cereal, english muffins, fruit or juice. These foods are all high in carbohydrates. Avoid high-fat choices such as bacon, sausage or biscuits and gravy. Pack containers of dry cereal, crackers, juice or dried fruit such as raisins and apricots; or pack fresh fruits such as apples or oranges in case the restaurant does not provide these items. If you eat breakfast at a fast food restaurant choose foods like cereal, fruit juice and muffins or pancakes. Avoid breakfast sandwiches, sausage and bacon.

LUNCH AND DINNER:Try restaurants that offer pastas, breads and salads. Order thick crust rather than thin crust pizza for more carbohydrates. Order vegetables such as mushrooms and green peppers on the pizza. Avoid high fat toppings such as pepperoni and sausage. Order vegetable soups accompanied by crackers, bread, or muffins. Emphasize the bread in sandwiches, not the filling, mayonnaise or potato chips. Avoid deep fat fried foods such as french fries, fried fish and fried chicken. Choose low-fat milk or fruit juices rather than soda

For swimmers who compete at all-day swimming meets choosing nutritious food throughout the day may be a problem. The swimmer should consider the amount of time between eating and racing when choosing foods to eat. The hot dogs, nachos, potato chips or candy bars found at most concession stands are extremely high in fat, and usually will not be digested quickly. When these foods are eaten as a pre-event meal they may impair performance. Suggested pre-racing menus include the following:

ONE HOUR OR LESS BEFORE COMPETITION
Fruit and vegetable juice such as orange, tomato or V-8 AND/OR Fresh fruit such as apples, watermelon, peaches, grapes or oranges AND/OR 1-1/2 cups of a sport drink like Gatorade

TWO TO THREE HOURS BEFORE COMPETITION
Fresh fruit and fruit and vegetable juices AND Breads, bagels, english muffins with limited amounts of butter, margarine, cream cheese, or peanut butter AND/OR 4 cups of a sport drink like Gatorade

THREE TO FOUR HOURS BEFORE COMPETITION
Fresh fruit and fruit and vegetable juices AND Breads, bagels, baked potatoes, cereal with low-fat or skim milk, low-fat yogurt, sandwiches with a small amount of peanut butter or lean meats and cheese AND/OR 7 1/2 cups of a sport drink like Gatorade

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