Top Tips on Recovery & Nutrition

What is recovery?

  • Ensuring all the systems of the body return to their ‘resting’ normal following intensive swimming by:
  • Removing Lactic Acid
  • Repairing Muscle
  • Replenishing Glycogen Stores
  • Returning Muscle and Blood pH to normal levels.

Good recovery = Better performance on the next session/the next race.

Removal of Lactate

Active Recovery is best. After a hard session or set, resuming steady movement as soon as possible will aid lactate removal and speed up recovery.

Steady swimming with unrestricted breathing (i.e. backstroke) is ideal. The use of legs (kick) during this time is important too, as being large muscle groups, they help to circulate blood throughout the body.

After a race where a swim-down pool is available, there should be no more than 5 minutes between finishing a race and beginning a swim-down session (1000-1400m approx.). Coaching debrief during this time will be minimal, recovery takes priority.

Where a swim-down pool is not available, light skipping/jogging and a stretch in a hot shower should suffice until the end of the session when the racing pool can be utilised for recovery purposes.

Glycogen Replenishment

After prolonged exercise (i.e. a training session) in order for damaged tissue to be repaired and for training adaptation to begin, you must consume carbohydrates as soon as possible post exercise (and always within 30 minutes). Some post-exercise recovery examples include the following:

RECOVERY FEEDING EXAMPLES (choose 1 option)

  • ½ pint skimmed milk + Nesquick +  1 banana
  • 200g low-fat yogurt + 1 banana
  •  ½ pint soy milk +  1 banana
  • 1 x 50g sachet Rego Rapid                   

Poor refuelling can lead to muscle soreness, tiredness and poor performance in the next training session/race.

Preparedness is key – Bring recovery food to every session/competition! Waiting until you have done post-pool stretching, got changed, driven home and had dinner is too late for optimal recovery.

Notes on Nutrition

*BRING WATER BOTTLES TO EVERY SESSION*

  • Training and racing is impaired when an athlete is dehydrated by 2% of their body weight.
  • If swimmers lose 5% of their body weight in fluid, their performance can be affected by 30%.
  • If you don’t ‘enjoy’ drinking water – put some squash in your bottle!
  • For those of you that are affected by persistent cramp, ensure you are fully hydrated prior to the session and add a small pinch of salt to your water/squash. Alternatively, buy some electrolyte sachets to add to your drinks bottle. A banana 30minutes before swimming will help too.
  • Make sure you are hydrated throughout the day – carry a water bottle with you at all times and good hydration will become a good habit.

Iron

  • Aim for 3-4 servings of red meat per week (lamb, beef and venison)
  • Drink orange juice/eat vitamin C rich food alongside these meals for optimum iron absorption
  • Avoid drinking tea/coffee around meal times as these interfere with iron uptake.

Food Intake

Adapt food intake depending on how many training session you have that day. For example, if you have two training sessions on a day, add a pre-swim snack for each session to your normal daily food.

An example of a swimmer dietary plan can be found overleaf:
*Please note that this is just an example of a swimming dietary plan and is not to be followed by everyone – the amount you need to eat may differ from what is written – it is the frequency of feeding and the structure of the meals (Go foods, Grow foods and Glow foods) that is to be highlighted*

EXAMPLE MEAL PLAN for Double Training Session Days
 

BREAKFAST (choose 1 option) 

  • 1 ½ cups of porridge oats / muesli / cereal + ½ pint skimmed milk
  • 2 weetabix / shredded wheat + ½ pint skimmed milk
  • 2 slices wholemeal toast with spread
  • 1 wholemeal bagel with spread
  • 1 wholemeal English muffin with spread
  • 2 crumpets with spread
  • 2 scotch pancakes with spread

RECOVERY FEEDING 1 (choose 1 option)

  • ½ pint skimmed milk + Nesquick +  1 small banana
  • 200g low-fat yogurt + 1 small banana
  • ½ pint soy milk + 1 small banana
  • 1 x 50g sachet Rego Rapid                   

BREAKFAST 2 (choose 1 option)

  • 1 ½ cups of porridge oats / muesli / cereal + ½ pint skimmed milk
  • 2 slices wholemeal toast + 1 smoked mackerel fillet
  • 1 wholemeal bagel + 1-2 scrambled eggs
  • 1 wholemeal English muffin + ½ tin baked beans

MID-MORNING SNACK (choose 1 option)

  • 2 pieces fruit
  • 1 slice toast + jam
  • skinny hot chocolate

LUNCH (choose 1 option from each)

Carbohydrate (Go Foods)

  • 1 jacket potato
  • 1 small baguette
  • 1 wholemeal pitta
  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1 multigrain bagel

Protein (Grow Foods)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 slices deli ham
  • ½ tin tuna / salmon
  • 1 tbsp cottage cheese
  • 200g baked beans

Micronutrient (Glow Foods)

  • ½ plate of salad or vegetables
  • 2 pieces fruit (not bananas)

PRE-TRAINING SNACK (choose 1 option)

  • 1 handful of mixed fruit & nuts
  • 1 large banana or 2 pieces fruit
  • 2 small slices malt / fruit loaf 
  • 1 cereal bar
  • 1 slice toast + jam

RECOVERY FEEDING 2 (choose 1 option)

  • ½ pint skimmed milk + Nesquick + 1 small banana
  • 200g low-fat yogurt + 1 small banana
  • ½ pint soy milk + 1 small banana
  • 1 x 50g sachet Rego Rapid                   

EVENING MEAL (choose 1 option from each)

Carbohydrate (Go Foods)

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 2 cups cooked spaghetti
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • ½ cups cooked couscous
  • 1 large jacket
  • 3-4 new potatoes

Protein (Grow Foods)

  • 1 fillet meat (beef/pork)
  • 1 chicken/turkey breast
  • 1 fillet oily fish (tuna/salmon)
  • 1 fillet white fish (no batter)
  • 2 eggs (scramble/omelette)
  • 2 tbsp cottage cheese
  • 200g baked beans

Micronutrient(Glow Foods)

  • ½ plate of salad or vegetables
  • 2 pieces fruit (not bananas)