SWIMMING AND HEALTH
LACK OF SLEEP
Poor sleep the night before a competition or consistent bad night sleeps leading up to an event can cause fatigue. Sleep is important because it is the time when actual physical growth occurs and tissue recovery from daily activity takes place. The number of hours needed for rejuvenation is age-dependant.
AGE HOURS OF SLEEP NEEDED
9 yrs – 10 1/4
10-11 yrs - 9 3/4
12 yrs - 9 1/4
13+ yrs - 9
16-20 yrs - 8-9
PERFECT PRE-RACE MEAL
Stay within your normal eating habits. Don't get talked into or try anything unusual right before your event. Eat 2-4 hours before the race. Have your meal be high in carbs (100-200 grams) and low in fat and protein. These two are slow to digest and require too much additional blood to process.
Example: bagel & jam, banana, sport drink, cooked rice or baked potato.
For the athlete that finds they get too nervous to eat properly as their race draws close, they can consider buying sports nutrition drinks. Items like Boost or Ensure Lite fit the bill perfectly.
FOODS TO TAKE
• Fruit, dried fruit, juices (limited)
• Bagels, bread, low-fat muffins
• Watered down sport drinks, low-fat energy bars
If there are more than 2 hours between races, take some dairy items such as yogurt, low-fat cheese and crackers. Try limiting or avoiding these items during and immediately before competition:
• Fatty Foods - Fast foods, ice cream and fries
• High Protein Foods - Meats, dairy and protein supplements
Sweating and dehydration does occur in swim training and racing. There is a school of thought that an additional water loss factor in swimming may be due to the body being in a horizontal position. This may send extra signals to eliminate fluids. The early warning signs of dehydration are:
• Loss of appetite.
• Poor concentration.
• Flushed skin.
• Dark urine.
• Muscle cramps.
The best rule of thumb to follow for ideal hydration levels is to create 4-5 full bladders a day. Water is the cheapest and best source. Just remember to clean the water bottle daily if you use it regularly. Gatorade, PowerAde and all sport drinks are excellent sources of carbohydrates and fluids. Make sure to water down these drinks as they contain high amounts of sugar. Studies have shown that carbohydrate fuel does provide immediate contributions in practice. Avoid soda, Kool-aid and fruit juices during practice because they require additional digestive fluids be brought in from elsewhere in the body to break them down.
Daily Use: You can use a commercial ear care product for swimmers like “Auro-Dry” or “Swim-ear” or make your own solution of rubbing alcohol and distilled vinegar. Use these products daily right after practice. They will help to dry out the ears as well as prevent bacterial growth.
Wax Removal: Always consult your physician if you have any questions regarding wax removal. The primary cause of ear infections is water that does not drain out and becomes a warm, wet breeding ground for bacteria. There are several wax removal kits available. Personally, I use ¼ cap of hydrogen peroxide once per week (you lay down and do one ear at a time. Let it bubble for 3-4 minutes). This clears out excess earwax that might otherwise trap water, and kills bacteria as well. (Do not use if the swimmer has tubes or any other ear condition.)
Stay in the Water and Put a Cap on it: Placing a swimming cap on the swimmer’s head while covering their ears also helps protect against swimmer’s ear. However, the ideal combination is a pair of earplugs with the cap holding them in place. With earplugs and a cap you may be able to keep swimming or at the least be able to kick.