Fueling for Success

By Rick Paine

Competitive swimming is certainly one of the most physically demanding sports there is. Just ask a football player to try one of your workouts. I know tons of swimmers who train their tails off, go to practice at 5:30 in the morning, train on Saturday and Sundays, compete in meets that take all weekend and are totally dedicated to being great swimmers.

A vast majority of these highly motivated athletes forget one of the most important aspects of conditioning………….keeping your gas tank full!

You have been told hundreds of times what to eat, but do you know why and when?


Hopefully you understand that you need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, eating meat is important (don’t overdo the red meat), whole grains and fruit juices high in Vitamin C. We all need to stay away from the “whites” such as white bread (whole wheat is the only way to go), white rice (whole grain rice is preferred) and white refined sugar. Although potatoes are white; I think swimmers should eat them because they are a great source of carbs and starch.

The body gets in shape by adapting to the stress that you place on it during training. You actually have to tear your muscles down to build them up. When you swim those long hard sets or the short intense sets or lift weights you actually cause microscopic tears in the muscles. Between practices with proper fuel, your muscles repair themselves and actually rebuild just a little stronger and a little better conditioned. It’s that steady progression of tearing down and building up that gets you in shape and stronger……if and only if you keep your gas tank full.

During hard training or meets your body’s main fuel source is glycogen. You use up glycogen fairly quickly and completely. If you don’t eat the proper foods your body can’t replenish your glycogen supplies and your muscles won’t be able to take advantage of all that great training you just did. Protein is also very important in building muscle strength.


When should I eat after practice or a meet? The best time to eat is as soon as possible after practice or a meet. This is when the cells in your body are most receptive to replenishing the depleted glycogen supplies. In other words, you can put more gas in your gas tank right after a practice or meet than you can at any other time. The longer you wait, the smaller the gas tank gets.


Think of it this way; the longer you wait to put gas in your tank, the less gas the tank will hold. When you start your next practice or the next day of competition your gas tank will only read ¾ full.


You can’t become a great swimmer without proper nutrition. Fuel for Success!!!!


Rick Paine, Director of Swimming

American College Connection, www.ACCrecruits.com