Competition Advice

Welcome to the world of competitive swimming! This page has lots of useful information for parents and swimmers who are new to competition.

Hopefully this information will help you pack your kit bag, plan your day, and get your nutrition right. But if you need anymore help, just have a chat with the coaches.

Competition Kit

  • Water bottles
  • Goggles & spares
  • Racing costume, trunks or jammers & spares
  • Club swimming caps for long hair & spares
  • Club T-shirt
  • Black shorts or tracksuit bottoms
  • Poolside sports towel (shammy)
  • Suitable energy snacks (see below)
  • All the above need to fit into a fairly compact pool-side bag.

Competition Day Advice

  • Organise and plan well, don’t rush around on the day, stay relaxed
  • Pack your bag the night before and triple check
  • Have a healthy low glycemic breakfast of slow burning energy for the day
  • Arrive at the pool at the time set by the team manager for team talk
  • Perform blood flow exercises when indicated by the coach
  • Perform pool warm up in training costume
  • Stay hydrated, sip a drink every 10-15 mins
  • Substitute a lunch break with grazing throughout the day with low and high glycemic foods. (Slow and fast burning carbs)
  • Go for a walk, don’t get too hot/ agitated and stay fresh
  • Speak to the coach for a pre race pep talk
  • Go to the marshalling area in plenty of time and as directed by the coach
  • Speak to your coach immediately after your race for race debrief
  • Perform a cool down of over 1000m working on any technical points even if it’s your last race of the day
  • After cool down, get dried, warm, re-hydrated and refuelled
  • Support your team mates, they will support you

Energy Fuelling for Competition

It is important that all athletes top up energy levels before they compete. This can be done the night before and the morning of the competition by eating carbohydrate rich meals.

By nature of competition it is likely that an athlete will need to top up energy stores because of multiple races. At these times it is important that the athlete does not consume foods that will take a long time to digest. The athlete should graze on foods throughout the day and re-fuel after each race with high-carb foods that will be digested quickly and supply energy to the muscles quickly. In other words avoid protein rich or fatty foods that will be stuck in your swimming during racing. Also note, chocolate bars and sweets are not appropriate snacks during competition.

Example meals to eat 3-4 hours before (Pre-Competition)

  • crumpets with jam or honey and flavoured milk
  • baked potato and cottage cheese filling and glass of milk
  • baked beans on toast
  • cereal with milk
  • bread roll with cheese, honey or banana
  • fruit salad with fruit-flavoured yoghurt
  • pasta or rice with a sauce based on low-fat ingredients (e.g. tomato, vegetables, lean meat)
  • Toast with jam or honey, muffin or hot cross bun

Foods to eat 1-2 hours before and during competition

  • cereal with milk
  • muesli or cereal bars
  • low fat fruit yoghurt
  • fruit
  • sandwiches (banana/jam/honey)
  • popcorn
  • hot cross buns or malt loaf 
  • plain biscuits
  • crumpets or scones
  • toast
  • rice cakes or crackers

Please note, fast foods and foods with high saturated fat content is not a suitable energy source for training or competition.

So that’s the information that the swimmers need… but what about the parents? How do they support their swimmers at competition?

For some really useful advice from Swim England please click here.