Before the Gala
Start preparing the night before – there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep, so make sure you plan your evening with an early night in mind.
To ensure your fuel reserves are full, eat a good portion of carbs in your evening meal – pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, cereals etc. Try not to eat anything that could upset you and put paid to months of training.
On the day
Although what you eat can affect your performance, race-day is not the time to try new foods. Stick to a breakfast that you are familiar with, which will not cause you discomfort or upset your stomach.
Allow at least 2 hours between your last meal and first race. This can be difficult if you have a morning session, but on waking (early if necessary) eat lots of cereal, porridge, toast and jam, fruit juice, bananas or what ever you are used to. If you have a long journey to the venue, pack some cereal bars, fruit buns, malt loaf, milk or milkshakes and fruit for the journey.
Drink plenty of water in the 2-3 hours before the session and continue to sip at a drink throughout the event. This should be water (the best drink there is), diluted cordial (10-15% dilution), diluted fruit juice (50% dilution) or, if not eating, an isotonic sports drink
If you have an afternoon session, plan your lunch so it is 2-3 hours before your first race. Sandwiches, pasta, noodles are all good choices. Add in fruit, yogurt and milk.
During the competition
Many people get bored, waiting for races. It is great temptation to eat continuously. It is important to keep energy reserves topped up but not to overdo it, so you do not feel bloated or uncomfortable when swimming.
Portion out snacks and put in little pots or bags. Suitable snacks include fruit (grapes, dried fruit), crackers (2 per pot), maltloaf (1 slice), sweets (small handful), muesli bar (1).
In the 30-60 minutes before your first race, have a small snack as above. Drink some fluids (water is best) and try to drink 100-150mls every 15-20 minutes.
Have a small snack straight after a race if you have a more than 30 minutes until the next race. If less time is available, stick to sweets, small banana or some sports drink (see below). If you know you are likely to want to snack more frequently, have some sugar-free polos or similar.
Make sure you continually drink small amounts to keep hydrated.
If you are taking part in 2 consecutive sessions, have a light meal in between as soon as the first session is finished. A small pot of pasta or a sandwich with some drink (water, milk, cordial) should be adequate. A similar recovery snack should be included for after the event, especially if it is more than a hour until you are likely to sit down for your next meal.
Please talk to your coach if you have any queries about nutrition and competitions.