Teddington Swimming Club
Teddington Swimming Club

Pre-race nutrition


Even if there’s an early start to your first race, do not skip breakfast. Breakfast is the metabolism boost every swimmer needs and should consist of around 500-1000 calories, depending on your body type and weight. Keep it light if your first race is early or opt for a heavier breakfast if your race is in the afternoon.

Try: Instant oatmeal made with  milk, whole grain toast with nut butter, dry cereal with yogurt and fruit, or a whole grain waffle with sliced fruit and cottage cheese. To drink, enjoy a glass of water, milk or all natural fruit juice.


If it’s mid-day and you’ve got enough time in between races, here are some more meal ideas. Just make sure that you allow for 2 hours for food to properly digest so that it doesn’t interrupt your performance.

Try: Whole grain pasta salad with some of your favorite vegetables and a tomato based sauce, a small sandwich made on whole grain bread with lean turkey and a slice of  cheese, or a mixed green salad with your favorite veggies and a side of brown rice. And don’t forget to hydrate with a glass of water or go for something with more nutrition like milk.


Don’t overeat just because it’s getting to be later in the day. Smart snacking throughout the day will help eliminate this possibility. Stick with small portion sizes and don’t forget to allow that 2-hour window of digestion time in between races. You don’t want to get lazy with your meal choices at the end of the day.

Try: Whole wheat spaghetti with low-fat meat sauce or a lean piece of chicken, a black bean burrito with your favorite veggies, a lean piece of chicken with potatoes or rice and a few vegetables. It’s still important to hydrate at the end of the race, so have a glass of water to keep your body in top shape up until the end.


If you want to improve your races you need to make sure your body is as ready as it can be for the next day’s race. Making sure your body has all the nutrients it needs to recover and repair while it is sleeping is critical.

Try something that ideally is loaded with nutrients, like proteins (ideally whey and casein), vitamins and minerals but is lower on the calorie side. A good example is a nutritional shake or a glass of whole milk.


Definitely avoid having any of these as your pre-race meals. They will only upset your stomach and derail your performance in the pool.

  • Processed sugar. Besides giving you a short-lived energy spike, constantly having high sugar has shown to create a host of other health problems.
  • “Energy” drinks. If you need additional energy, get it from food. Stay away from these drinks.
  • High fiber foods. Don’t make your stomach and digestive system work overtime on the day of the meet. Save the high fiber for another day.
  • New foods. Race day is not the time to try new foods and experiment. Stick to what your system is us