The holidays mean something different to everyone. Their arrival may have you taking stock of your year, or you may find yourself immersed in holiday parties and family time. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the festive season or feel a special empathy for the green monster in Dr. Suess’s ‘The Grinch’, swimmers tend to have one special thing in common.
There's lots of information out there on how to eat right when you're training, what foods to include, how much water to drink, and what's the right carb-protein ratio. One of the nutrition trends that athletes sometimes consider is carb-loading. Depending on your situation and your sport, it may be helpful, but let's discuss if it should be a part of a nutrition plan for swimmers....
There are many reasons to love the sport of swimming. It offers great physical training, an opportunity to make lifelong connections with coaches and teammates, and the chance to do something positive for your health. And what's even better about swimming is that everyone can participate and today there are many programs, scholarships, and swim clubs that help both male and female athletes. But being a female athlete brings with it some challenges, one of which is the female athlete triad. We'll discuss what it is and how it can affect your swim training.
What is the Female Athlete Triad?
This condition can affect women at any age and occurs when a female has irregular menstrual periods, low bone density, and disordered eating. Known as the "female athlete triad, though more common in the athletic population, can also occur in the nonathletic population"1 and often takes a team of coaches, physicians, and parents to diagnose.
Why does this affect female athletes?
A few factors make female athletes more susceptible to this condition. First, female athletes are participating in strenuous physical training, which as we've discussed in previous posts, requires a larger food intake than a non-athletic peer. While swimmers are definitely expending these calories in rigorous training sessions, female swimmers are sometimes under societal pressures to stay thin or look a certain way. Second, female athletes will modify their eating habits to adhere to these peer pressures, which often compromises their overall health. Finally, during a woman's menstrual cycle, they need extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy. When females are restricting their food intake, they often will miss or delay periods, known as amenorrhea. "Amenorrhea can be caused by a variety of diseases and genetic abnormalities, as well as energy deficiency and even stress."2
How do I know if I have this condition?
Diagnosing female athlete triad often takes a team approach from people who interact with the swimmer on a daily basis, like a parent or family member, a coach or teacher, or maybe even another teammate. Pay attention to the following warning signs:
- exercising frequently and excessively, beyond the normal training protocol
- skipping family or team meals
- excessive or rapid weight loss, or sudden weight fluctuations
- missed periods
- lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
- frequent sore throats, dental cavities, or foul breath, which are all symptoms of self-induced vomiting
- withdrawn or defensive attitude when asked about food or diet habits
How will this affect my swimming performance?
The female athlete triad will affect your athletic performance and swimming training in a number of ways. Frequent stress fractures are one of the first ways that your body will show signs of this condition. Because your body is not getting proper nutrition, your immune system is weakened and you are more prone to injuries. Your swim performance will also be impacted by your low energy reserves and you'll be less likely to power through those demanding practices.
But what's even more dangerous that the immediate impact on your swimming performance is the long lasting effects on your health. Prolonged cases of female athlete triad result in osteoporosis, heart problems, and since they are "often difficult to recognize, the female athlete triad can have a significant impact on morbidity and even mortality in a relatively young segment of the population."3
As mentioned earlier, detecting female athlete triad is a team effort and early detection is key. For tips on how to get the best nutrition for swimmers and stay healthy all season long, subscribe to our blog today!
Training for a swimming competition takes months of planning, practice, and physical endurance. At times, it can be stressful. Throughout this intense period, swimmers need to also meet the demands of work, school, relationships, and daily life that can be an additional stress.
We all handle stress in different ways, but more effectively than others, but one thing is for certain - dealing with stress in a natural and proactive way will help improve your swim performance. Adaptogenic herbs are one way to manage the physical and mental stress on your body throughout swim season. Let's learn how they can make you a better swimmer.
How do adaptogenic herbs work?
These natural stress relievers have been around for centuries and come in many different forms. While they have only recently been called "adaptogens", they have been helping people manage anxiety and stress for years, without many of the side effects that come from using artificial pharmaceuticals.
Adaptogens work in conjunction with your body's system to help it adapt, which is where the name comes from, and optimize functioning. Some of the more popular adaptogens are below:
- Maca - helps with energy, stamina, and strength. Though it is not ginseng, it is also known as "Peruvian ginseng."
- Rhodiola Rosea - with lots of scientific data under its belt, this is one of the more popular adaptogens, and is in our P2Life Enduroboost supplement. It has anti-stress and fatigue-fighting properties.
- Schisandra berry - Calling it a "berry" is a bit of a misnomer since you won't be eating it or putting it on your yogurt. But once in medicinal form, this powerful adaptogen counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood.
How do they impact performance?
There are many things can impact a swimmer's performance: adequate sleep, proper hydration, high quality protein, and of course stress. When you're trying to manage the best nutrition for swimmers in addition to everything else, it can be a bit overwhelming.
This is where adaptogens help your body adjust and adapt so that you can compete and be in your best shape on the day of the race. These natural healers impact your performance in a few ways. First, they promote homeostasis, helping your body to recover from intense workout sessions and avoid post-practice sprains and cramps. Second, they foster the manufacture of protein, which helps with cellular rejuvenation. And thirdly, they actively reduce your cortisol, or stress hormone levels, which prevents pre-race jitters and nervous eating the day before a race.
Are they safe?
Generally, adaptogens are a safer alternative than some pharmaceutical options. Our P2Life Adaptogens are tested safe by the Banned Substances Control Group, and are safe for athletes to take. But some other adaptogenic herbs, like ginseng, are on banned substances lists, so check with your coach and team nutritionist to make sure what you're taking is safe.
For more articles on nutrition for swimmers and how you can be the best at this amazing sport, follow our P2Life blog today!
If you've been swimming for any length of time, you've probably been a part of some good swim teams, and others that stand out above the rest. What makes some teams great and how can you foster that championship atmosphere, whether you're a swimmer, a parent, or a coach? Let's focus on four key components here.
Having a skilled coach, educated trainers, and competent sports staff isn't unique to the sport of swimming. You'll see these elements of strong leadership at the front of any great team. When you have talented leadership at the helm of your swim team, they are using their knowledge to develop the skills and athletic performance of each member, increasing the chance of success for the overall team.
Great coaches and leaders don't just focus on improving your time and refining your technique. They make sure their team has other life skills to help them deal with the challenges of being in a demanding sport such as swimming. A good coach will foster teamwork amongst the individual swimmers, will teach sportsmanship and how to deal with both wins and losses, and will encourage swimmers to develop a good work ethic throughout a long season. These types of skills help the great teams overcome the obstacles that are inevitable throughout the training season, and focus on winning together.
Great teams don't just become that way overnight. Each swimmer on the team works with the coach to develop goals to achieve on a weekly, monthly, and season-long schedule. Checking in periodically to measure progress is good for everyone on the team; you can trade tips with your teammates about what they are doing to improve their times and performance. Setting goals as a team also helps everyone stay accountable and motivated during those rigorous practice sessions.
Everyone has a favorite teamwork phrase, and we'll quote basketball legend Michael Jordan here: "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." While a lot is required of each individual in swimming, teamwork is what wins championships and makes an average swim team a great one. This team spirit is infectious and is important when your teammate a lane over has a bad day. An encouraging word, or a reminder about a technique trick, is sometimes all we need to give ourselves that extra push and have a stellar performance in the pool.
Swimming is a demanding sport, but being part of a great team is well worth the sacrifice. To stay on top, check out our blog with ideas on nutrition for swimmers, coaching tips, and ideas from some of the best swimmers in the world!
Every year, adults all over the country take up swimming for different reasons. Some do it to participate in a sport that their children love, some want to learn a new skill, while others are seeking out the social benefits that come with joining a sport as an adult.
And with over half of the American adult population stating that they can't swim, the more people that take up the sport, the better. Whatever your reasons are for seeking out swim training later in life, one thing is for sure - you are getting fit and taking a step towards your health. And that is a positive thing!
Unfortunately, recent numbers by the National Center for Health Statistics show that more women in the U.S. are becoming obese, with 40% of adult females seriously overweight. And the stats for men aren't much better with 35% of the U.S. male population in the obese category.
To combat these statistics, starting swim training as an adult is one of the smartest things that you can do for your health. Swimming is a great form of exercise and is easy on your joints compared to other sports like running or aerobics. And while it's gentle on your joints, it still burns between 500-700 calories per hour, depending on how fast you're going and what stroke you're doing while in the pool.
In addition to staying lean and fit because of your swim training, this popular form of exercise can also help you to prevent injuries as you age. Dryland swim training, like some of the exercises found on the U.S. Masters Swimming site, can build and strengthen the muscles around your joint area. Swimming practice, cool downs, and other supporting workouts can help improve balance, strengthen hips, and give your body the power to avoid slips and falls, which become more common as we get older.
But getting older is an opportunity to make a positive change for your overall health. As trainer Chris Ritter discusses in the U.S. Masters Swimming article, "The Decade of Transition", taking up swimming in your 50s is an "opportunity for you to be intentional about strength-training—a healthy way to stay younger than your actual age. If you’re serious about your fitness and longevity, your 50s are the decade to really focus in on it and set the stage for subsequent decades."1 And it's true! Many of the champion Masters swimmers who use our P2Life products are swimming better now than they did in college.
While staying fit and avoiding injuries are great reasons to take up swimming, many adults do it for the social reasons. Some adults say that the camaraderie is the thing that keeps them coming to practice every day, while some adults do it with the whole family and join clubs to keep up with their children.
If you're looking for a swim club near you, check out the U.S. Masters swimming site where you can find swimming clubs in your area. Pay them a visit and see what one is right for you. Or consider joining your local gym and take advantage of their pool and any classes that they offer. Wherever you're looking for, there's sure to be something that fits with your schedule and fitness level.
Did you know that every day 8 people die from unintentional drowning and that this is the 5th leading cause of unintentional death in the United States2? Don't become one of these startling statistics. And even if you or your loved ones survive a water accident or possible drowning, many times accident victims end up having lasting symptoms of memory loss and brain damage. Learning how to swim as an adult can help with the safety of those around you and prevent accidental death by drowning.
With all of these reasons, there's no excuse why you shouldn't consider swimming as an adult. If you need some extra motivation, read about Masters swimmer Laura Val, who is breaking records in her 60s, or our P2Life founder Tim Shead, who is performing better now than he did in his 20s!
For more articles about nutrition and fitness for swimmers, subscribe to our P2Life blog today and take your performance to the next level.
What separates good swimmers from great swimmers isn't just technique and time. It's nutrition. When you hear from the world's best swimmers about what they're eating and drinking, it's clear that they are paying attention to every detail to maximize their performance. Ideal nutrition for swimmers includes not only protein and carbohydrates, but minerals and vitamins, too. One overlooked nutrient is selenium. Let's see what swimmers should know about this important mineral.
What does selenium do?
Selenium helps protect cells and cell membranes from oxidative stress. When an athlete is exercising, it is estimated that oxygen consumption increases 10-15 times more than for a sedentary person, and this long term exercise puts constant stress on the body. With its antioxidant properties, selenium guards the body against potentially damaging free radical production associated with intense physical activity and athletic training.
Additionally, selenium supports the proper activity of a group of enzymes called "glutathione peroxidases" that neutralize highly reactive and damaging free radicals.
There are eight known enzymes, and five of these require selenium to achieve proper function. These enzymes play a key role in the body's detoxification system and they also defend against oxidative stress.
How much do I need?
Since swimmers are putting their bodies through rigorous training and exercise, they must consistently replenish the following seven essential nutrients: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc. Although many swimmers are getting enough of these nutrients, depending on your diet, you may not be getting adequate selenium. "The most common vitamins and minerals found to be of concern in athletes' diets are calcium and vitamin D, the B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, as well as some antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, β-carotene, and selenium."1
The recommended dietary allowance for adults and children over 14 is 55 micrograms. If you are an active swimmer, you will need more selenium to maintain proper levels so that your body isn't depleted of this key antioxidant. And while selenium intake is important, a "safe upper limit for selenium is 400 micrograms a day in adults."2
How can I get more selenium in my diet?
As with any diet plan, nutrition for swimmers should come from food sources. We've provided a list below of some top whole food sources for this important nutrient, and our Nutriboost shake provides 35% of your daily recommended value in one serving. Enjoy the shake after a swim to aid in muscle recovery, or before bed to repair and heal your body, while getting more selenium in your diet.
2 Brazil nuts -100 micrograms/200% DRV
4 ounces of tuna - 122 mcg/223% DRV
4 ounces of salmon - 43 mcg/78% DRV
1 cup asparagus - 10 mcg/20% DRV
1 cup brown rice - 19 mcg/35% DRV
1 egg - 15 mcg/28% DRV
Nutrition for swimmers doesn't have to be complicated. To learn more about how to achieve the right balance in your diet and maximize your performance in the pool, subscribe to our P2Life blog today.
Training to be an elite swimmer means focusing on different facets of your performance. There's planning every meal of your nutrition plan, making sure you're sleeping enough and at the right times, and of course, perfecting your technique in the pool.
We talked with some of our Masters Swimmers who use our P2Life Nutriboost to help them stay on top of their game to find out some secrets about what they do to improve their swim techniques.
One of the few swimmers who does well in both sprints and distance is Dave Quiggin. This talented Masters Swimmer placed 1st at the 2015 World FINA Masters Long Course top ten swims in the 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500 Freestyle. That's quite an impressive feat! When it comes to technique, Dave gives swimmers this advice, "The better your turns are, the less you have to swim. Turns are like free distance. Work on a good streamline and push off hard on all turns." So consider working on your turns and talk to your coach about setting some goals to measure your progress.
Another Masters Swimmer with an illustrious background is Rich Abrahams. He is a multi-time winner of Swimming World Magazine's "World Masters Swimmer of the Year" and holds over 60 world records in four consecutive age groups. Definitely an accomplished swimmer. Rich's advice on technique: "Have your strokes analyzed by a knowledgeable coach. I’m very lucky because two of my training partners are coaches and we all have studied the latest developments in technique closely." If you're looking at joining a swim club, interview potential coaches and see what they do to keep up-to-date on the latest tips for improving your strokes, and other swim techniques.
As swimmers, we spend all season perfecting every technique, working on our time, and eating right to stay in shape and maximize muscle recovery. What a shame it would be to work hard and then not finish strong at the end of the race. Sprint champion Dave Quiggins has this advice on finishing for the win, "Swimmers, particularly sprinters should practice finishing strong. Your race ends when your fingertip touches the wall. No 'cruising in' or lifting your head before you touch the wall. I lost a race by 0.01 seconds and have won by 0.02 seconds. No sense swimming the race hard then losing it at the wall." Part of being an elite swimmer is putting in the grueling work all season long, and this includes down to the last seconds. Finish strong every time and you won't have a hard time doing it come race day!
Working on your technique is only part of what makes a swimmer great. For tips on how to create a great nutrition plan and the nutrients you should be including in your diet, follow our P2Life blog today!
When you're watching the most talented swimmers compete for a coveted spot on the most elite team in the world, you have to wonder what they do to get there. Eating right and paying attention to nutrition for swimmers is part of it, but what else are they doing? Here's our list of five things that make up an elite swim club.
1. It's Full Time
Being part of an elite swim club is not something that you do as a hobby. It's a full time commitment. When you're looking to join an elite swim club, learn about the commitment level of your teammates. If everyone is dedicated to being the best, you're more likely to perform at your best, too.
And being "full time" doesn't just mean logging loads of hours at the pool. It means paying attention to your diet, to the amount of hydration you're getting, and to the quality of your sleep during those "off hours". Doing all of this puts you on the path to performing well above the rest.
2. Have a Plan
When you're part of an elite swim club, you'll notice that everyone follows a plan. The best athletes sit down with their coaches at the beginning of the season to set goals, and then consistently check in to see if they're on track as the weeks go by. Waiting until the week before the big race isn't a good strategy.
3. The Glass is Half Full
Yes, while hydration is important for swimmers, we're actually referring to your attitude. The best swimmers have a positive outlook and are generally optimistic about their goals and performance. And this positive attitude rubs off on your teammates; when you hit a rough spot, your fellow athletes will be there to push you and get you back on track to have a good performance the next time around.
4. Accept Criticism
In a similar vein as the positive attitude is being able to receive constructive criticism from your coach and teammates. When you've had a less than stellar performance and you didn't make that desired time, be open to changing your technique and listen to the feedback. One of the benefits of belonging to an elite swim club is having access to the tips and tricks of other great swimmers, so take advantage of the wealth of information that is around you. Be open-minded about any criticism and use it to your advantage.
5. The Long Haul
And last, but definitely not least, the best swimmers are devoted to the long road ahead. They know that being part of an elite swim club means years of hard work. They don't let a bad day derail them, but instead get up the next day and commit to another grueling practice session.
Perfection takes time and swimmers who are in the sport for the long haul know that they need to develop different skills to become the best. Right when you master your underwater kicking, your coach may tell you that it's time to refine your stroke. That's okay; over time you'll hone each skill and gradually become the best swimmer you can be!
Becoming an elite swimmer has many components, and one of those is nutrition. Here at P2Life we take nutrition for swimmers seriously and have a range of products to support your performance. For more articles about how optimal nutrition can help you achieve your swimming goals, check out our blog here!