Preparing Your Shark for Swim and Dive Meets: Nutrition, Sleep, and Training Tips

Erica Leary



Competing in swim meets requires not only physical prowess but also a well-rounded approach to preparation. As a swim team coach, you play a crucial role in guiding young athletes through their journey to success. This article aims to provide valuable insights and practical tips to help swimmers between the ages of 6 and 18 prepare for swim meets effectively. We will focus on three essential aspects: nutrition, sleep, and training. By incorporating these elements into their routine, swimmers can maximize their performance potential and achieve their goals in the pool.


Nutrition: Proper nutrition is key to fueling young swimmers' bodies and ensuring they have the energy and endurance necessary for peak performance. Here are some nutrition tips to share with your swimmers:


  1. Pre-meet meals: Encourage swimmers to consume a balanced meal 2-3 hours before the meet. It should include complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables), lean proteins (chicken, fish, tofu), and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil).
  2. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is crucial. Advise swimmers to drink water regularly throughout the day and avoid excessive sugary or caffeinated beverages.
  3. Snack smart: For longer swim meets, suggest snacks such as fruit, granola bars, or yogurt to provide quick energy between races. Avoid heavy or greasy foods that may cause discomfort or sluggishness.
  4. Recovery nutrition: After the meet, emphasize the importance of replenishing lost nutrients. Encourage swimmers to consume a combination of carbohydrates and proteins within 30 minutes of finishing their last race.


Sleep: Adequate sleep is vital for swimmers to recover, repair muscles, and maintain optimal cognitive function. Here's how to promote healthy sleep habits:


  1. Consistent routine: Encourage swimmers to establish a regular sleep schedule, go to bed, and wake up at consistent times, even on weekends.
  2. Optimal environment: Advise swimmers to create a sleep-friendly environment by keeping their bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Minimize electronic device use before bedtime, as the blue light can disrupt sleep patterns.
  3. Wind-down routine: Encourage swimmers to establish a relaxing pre-sleep routine, such as reading a book, listening to calming music, or taking a warm bath, to help signal the body that it's time to sleep.


Sleep duration: Emphasize the importance of getting sufficient sleep for their age group. Generally, teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep, while younger children may need 9-12 hours.


Training: Effective training strategies are essential for swimmers to improve their technique, endurance, and speed. Consider the following training tips:


  1. Goal-oriented training: Help swimmers set specific goals for each meet and design training plans accordingly. This will motivate them and provide a sense of purpose during practice sessions.
  2.  Balanced workouts: Encourage a well-rounded training regimen that includes a combination of stroke technique drills, endurance exercises, speed sets, and interval training.

Recovery and rest days: Emphasize the importance of rest and recovery days to prevent burnout and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Remind swimmers that rest is an integral part of their training process.


  1. Mental preparation: Teach swimmers visualization techniques, positive self-talk, and mindfulness exercises to help manage pre-meet nerves and enhance focus and concentration.