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Young Swimmers – Nutrition Supporting Performance

 Adam Taylor YSN
Sports nutrition for youth swimmers can be consequential for athletes to enhance sports performance and maximise personal potential. However, there are a lot of questions regarding adequate nutrition.
What do athletes actually need?
How does food affect performance?
How can I use nutrition to benefit performance?
People are less aware of the overall benefits correct nutrition can have for a developing athlete. This is not just regarding sporting capacity and performance, even though they are critical factors of correct nutrition [1]. By meeting their correct dietary intake, the aims are to promote physiological adaptations, enhancing growth, recovery of muscles and overall health (including immunity) [2].
Young athletes who train regularly and compete to a high level demand a greater nutritional intake. This is to replenish and feed the working muscles, maintaining growth and development [3].
Youth Swimmer Nutrition
Swimmers train forty/forty-eight weeks each year including pool and dry land training, typically reaching a total of twenty hours per week. Adequate energy must be consumed to support the volume and intensity of the training sessions, as individual swim sessions can last up to three hours, with over 10,000M covered in one session [4].
Competition is both aerobic and anaerobic performance; however training is majority aerobic [5]. Dry land training involves circuits of callisthenics and swimming-specific training, body weight exercises consisting of resistance training and circuits, used to overload the muscles [6&7].
Adam Peaty PROTEEN
(Photo credit: DailyMail)
Growth and development of swimmers is a predicting variable of peak performance, affected by metabolic capacities and skill acquisition [8]. Swim coaches face challenges when creating specific training programmes as individual needs are dictated by gender, distance, and stroke, balanced with nutritional needs [9].
Adopting the correct application of nutrition significantly influences and optimises athletic performance during training and competition [10].

Macronutrient recommendations

Swimmer macronutrients are based on weight of the individual and exercise expenditure. Recommended carbohydrates levels for swimmers are 4.4g/kg body mass, corresponding to 46% of total energy intake, 42% of energy from fats and a total of 18% from protein relating to 2.1g/kg of body mass [11].
Nutrition is different for each individual, but just as essential to meet the demands of training and competition. This includes the right mixture of carbohydrates, fats and protein for optimal fuel use, increasing maximum muscle performance, strength, power and endurance to benefit performance [12&13].
During training and competition, swimmers need to ensure they develop a diet plan incorporating foods that will not decrease their performance [14]. This is to make sure athletes are able to achieve their full potential, compete to their best ability and win the race.
Food Plate
So, it is clear to see how sports nutrition is a critical factor for both athlete development and performance. There are a large amount of variables to consider and these at times can be very time consuming for parents, coaches and young athletes.
To combat this and add convenience, particularly after late evening sessions, Youth Sport Nutrition developed PROTEEN® to meet the on-the-go post training drink that meets the needs & values of youth athletes. This ensures that energy levels are replenished, and reduces the chances of malnourishment or common nutrient deficiencies due to busy lifestyles and hectic schedules.
A food first approach is critical to set nutritional foundations for young swimmers. Sports supplements should always be used correctly to get the best out of them, and not thought of as performance enhancing as such - they simply offer a convenient way to intake nutrients when on the go. Contrary to popular belief, supplements are not a get fit (big, muscly, lean etc etc) fast solution. But, rather a method of ensuring correct dietary intake when intense or frequent training may otherwise compromise an athletes ability to eat right. 
Remember to always check for the Informed Sport logo on any supplements you decide to use.


1 Spronk, I., Heaney, S. E., Prvan, T., & O'Connor, H. T. (2015) Relationship Between General Nutrition Knowledge and Dietary Quality in Elite Athletes. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 25(3), pp.243-251.
2 Gibala, M. J., & Spriet, L. L. (2004) Nutritional strategies to influence adaptations to training. Journal Of Sports Sciences, 22(1), pp.127-141.
3 - Bryant, C., Porcari, J. and Comana, F. (2015). Exercise physiology. 1st ed: Philadelphia
4 (Stellingwerff, Maughan and Burke, 2011).
5 - Kilen, A., Larsson, T. H., Jørgensen, M., Johansen, L., Jørgensen, S., & Nordsborg, N. B. (2014) Effects of 12 Weeks High-Intensity & Reduced-Volume Training in Elite Athletes. Plos ONE, 9(4), pp.1-8
6 - Anderson, M., Hopkins, W., Roberts, A., & Pyne, D. (2008) Ability of test measures to predict competitive performance in elite swimmers. Journal Of Sports Sciences, 26(2), pp.123-130.
7 - Bertoleti Junior, E., Aidar, F. J., de Souza, R. F., de Matos, D. G., Camara, M. B., Gomes, A. B., & ... Garrido, N. D. (2016) Swimming Performance Evaluation in Athletes Submitted to Different Types of Strength Training. Journal Of Exercise Physiology Online, 19(6), pp.1-9.
8 - Lätt, E., Jürimäe, J., Mäestu, J., Purge, P., Rämson, R., Haljaste, K., & ... Jürimäe, T. (2010) Physiological, biomechanical and anthropometrical predictors of sprint swimming performance in adolescent swimmers. Journal Of Sports Science & Medicine, 9(3), pp.398-404.
9 - Pyne, D. B., & Sharp, R. L. (2014) Physical and Energy Requirements of Competitive Swimming Events. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 24(4), pp.351-359.
10 - Farajian, P., Kavouras, S. A., Yannakoulia, M., & Sidossis, L. S. (2004) Dietary Intake and Nutritional Practices of Elite Greek Aquatic Athletes. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 14(5), pp.574-585.
11 - Kabasakalis, A., Kalitsis, K., Tsalis, G., & Mougios, V. (2007) Imbalanced Nutrition of Top-Level Swimmers. International Journal Of Sports Medicine, 28(9), pp.780-786.
12 - Richmond, T., Buell, J., Pfeil, S., & Crowderd, M. W. (2015) Evidence-based recommendations for maximizing competitive swimming performance. Journal Of Swimming Research, 23 pp.1-14.
13 - Putman, C., Xu, X., Gillies, E., MacLean, I. and Bell, G. (2004) Effects of strength, endurance and combined training on myosin heavy chain content and fibre-type distribution in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 92, pp.4-15.
14 - Rochester, S. (2009) Sports Dietitian Australia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2016].

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