[caption id="attachment_2245" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="Image thanks to Airman Magazine"]
Sprint swimming is a demanding technique that requires swimmers to have high levels of both speed and power. In addition, and as Russian champion Alexander Popov said, stroke efficiency is also key when it comes to improving your sprinting technique.
Sure, physical workouts like weight training do help your body become stronger outside and inside the pool. However, you are what you eat, so the importance of nutrition cannot be overlooked. Now, how exactly can you maximise the efficiency of your sprint swimming technique through your diet? In this post we look at the key foods that can help you achieve and maintain optimal performance levels when sprint swimming.
The 5 Nutritional Tips
1- Energy-rich pre-race snacks
Sprint swimmers need to be explosive and this requires large amounts of raw energy. Due to this reason, you must ensure that your pre-race snacks can provide additional “fuel” to keep you going during the competition. Some good examples of pre-race snacks include rice pudding, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, oats with almond milk and raisins, hummus with pita bread, dried fruits, chocolate, and wholegrain muffins or biscuits.
2- Ensure you maintain a regular intake of carbohydrates
Since sprint swimming is characterised by explosive bursts of energy that last less than two minutes, sprinters need to ensure that their glycolytic (or anaerobic) energy system is not depleted. That kind of energy derives from glycogen, a substance that, in turn, is obtained from carbohydrates. However, sprint swimmers may drain their carb-derived glycogen reserves in less than 90 minutes, so it is important to ensure that pre-competition meals are rich in good quality complex carbohydrates.
Some of the best complex carbohydrates include wholegrain pasta, brown rice, bread, and cereals, which should make up 60 per cent of your total calorie intake. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes (beans and lentils, for example), and sweetcorn are also excellent sources of complex carbohydrates.
3- Aim for a balanced protein intake
The recommended daily amount of protein depends on your weight (approximately 2 grams per pound of weight) and on your caloric intake (20 to 25 per cent of the total calories you consume should come from proteins). Some of the foods that can help you reach your target protein intake are lean chicken meat (grilled whenever possible), eggs (but do not eat them daily), beans, dairy products, and super-foods like quinoa, Brazil nuts, and goji berries.
4- It's not just about protein
In order to produce raw energy, proteins need to be synthetised by their interaction with some key vitamins and with folate. As a sprinter, you need to ensure that your diet includes at least 1.5 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 2.5 micrograms of vitamin B12. The easiest way to do this is by including fish, shell fish, eggs, nuts, and bran in your daily meal plan. Complement that with 400 micrograms of folate, easily available in spinach, broccoli, lentils, and citrus fruits.
5- Liquid foods
You can also draw raw energy from liquid foods, such as juices and smoothies. Try to combine bananas, peaches, almonds, carrots, beetroots, coconut, and citrus fruits for some real energy-packed drinks.