Nutrition for Swimming Training – Issue #23

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Heat & Hydration
Dear Friend,

In the dog days of August, it is important to remember to hydrate, even during your swim workouts. In addition to the workout of the month, I have included an article on by Terry Laughlin (Total Immersion) regarding hydration and swimming for a triathlon. I have found that water with electrolytes works best (like Smart Water), although many like the watered down sports drink plan to stay hydrated. Either way, don’t be fooled by being surrounded by water- your body still gets thirsty during swim workouts!


Workout of the Month

This is a good workout for the beginning of a taper period for an event, or as you’re building up your yardage. Hip rotation is the focus.

SC= Count your number of strokes
K= Kick only
Descend= start out easy, and get faster throughout the set
Back= Backstroke

WARM UP: 2×300 #1) Free, Easy, focus on good body rotation #2) Build by 100’s

DRILL: 4×100 25 Left arm only/25 Right arm only/50 Swim Rest= :10

MAIN: 1×600 Build by 200’s Rest 1:30
8×50’s Odds: SC-1 @ cruise +:10 Evens: Descend 1-4 @ cruise +:05
1×400 Free 85% effort
8×25’s K/Swim Descend swims. Rest= :10

WARMDOWN: 150 Back/Free by 25’s

TOTAL: 2750

Get Your Fluids

by Terry Laughlin
Think the pool is one place you can skip hydration? Think again! Water, water everywhere, but are you drinking enough? When I look around at the pool, I think not. It’s easy to assume that because you don’t see sweat when you’re swimming, you’re not losing water. Not so. You not only sweat, but also sweat copiously, because your body generates lots of internal friction heat from the contractions of all those swimming muscle fibers. In fact, a majority of the calories you burn in the pool are body heat.

Prove it by weighing yourself before and after workout, whatever weight you’ve lost is all water. Sweat losses of as little as 2 percent of body weight, (or 3 pounds for a 150-pound swimmer) can dramatically hurt your practice performance. In fact, dehydration is far more likely to slow you down than energy loss, making water-loading far more important than carbo-loading, not to mention being easier. Yet, when swimming my daily TI practice (with a jumbo 32-oz. bottle of filtered water within each reach), I seldom see anyone in adjacent lanes quaffing rejuvenating water.

A study by Dr. Jack Wilmore, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas, concluded that for workouts of less than an hour, nothing beats water. But if you’re swimming for more than an hour, fluid replacement drinks with electrolytes (i.e. Gatorade or Powerade) are absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly than water, thus hastening recovery.

Sports drinks are easy enough to find, having made their way from health-food and sporting-goods stores to the corner grocery. I settled on Gatorade, watered down to about half strength. I like the taste, which prompts me to drink more; I’ve had no digestive problems, and I’ve noticed a marked improvement during the latter half of a typical 75-to 90- minute workout. And as I increase my swim time in preparation for the Manhattan Island Swim, I’ll probably put Endurox in my bottle for sessions lasting 2 to 3 hours to keep my muscles from getting glycogen-depleted.

Dehydration: Did you know that?

  • 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated – mainly because your body is low on water long before your thirst response alerts you.
  • In half of the chronically dehydrated, the thirst mechanism is often mistaken for hunger.
  • MILD dehydration will slow down your metabolism by as much as 3 percent — that’s right you’ll burn calories and fat 3 percent more slowly if you don’t drink enough water.
  • One glass of water satisfied late night hunger pangs for almost 100 percent of dieters in a Univ. of Washington study.
  • Research suggests that drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day could significantly relieve back and joint pain for up to 80 percent of sufferers.
  • A mere 2 percent drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or printed page.
  • Drinking five glasses of water daily decreases colon cancer risk by 45 percent, breast cancer risk by 79 percent and bladder cancer risk by 50 percent.

Down a quart? Here are five ways to make sure you’re getting enough:

  • You can sweat off 6 to 8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. At minimum you should take a healthy swig from your water bottle every quarter hour.
  • Want to be more precise? Weigh yourself before and after a workout. Each pound lost is a pint (16 oz.) of water loss. Next time, bring that much in your water bottle.
  • Pre-hydrate. Drink a liter or more of water during the two hours before swimming and 16 oz. immediately before.
  • Drink before you’re thirsty. The thirst response comes only after your body already needs water. (Older swimmers note: Past middle age, we get “less thirsty.” Exercise that drives a younger person to drink probably doesn’t send thirst signals to an older person; so your risk of dehydration is greater.)
  • Energy-replacement (carbo-loaded) drinks during workout? Not necessary for a 2-hour or less workout. But if, say, you’re getting on your bike afterward, use them to tank up.