Gala Nutritional Guide

Swimming Gala Preparation and Nutrition

The difference between winning and losing can be of the smallest of margins. Diet affects performance and can make all the difference to the overall result so here are some important tips to help.


When competition time comes round, you’ll have plenty on your mind already. So the day before the event, keep exercise to a minimum – if anything at all – and eat meals and snacks high in complex carbohydrates. You need to keep those glycogen stores topped up.

Be Prepared! Preparing ahead for food and hydration choices should be as much a part of an athlete’s preparation routine as packing towels, goggles and suits. Advance preparation for food and fluid intake throughout competition will prevent reliance on canteen foods which may be inappropriate recovery choices. Good nutrition during competition sets athletes up not only for their next race but also for a good night’s sleep and the next day’s racing. 



Competition schedules can be hectic and for athletes competing in multiple events, refuelling and rehydrating between races is essential to optimise performance. 

Below are some examples of suitable choices for between races during competition.

1 hour or less - Easily digested foods and liquids: Sports drinks and bars, Cordial, fruit juice, banana

1 – 2 hours - Milk Shakes, Smoothies, sports bars & cereal bars, Breakfast cereal, Fruit, Yoghurt


The list below offers great food options for lunch. Remember to keep eating healthy foods from your regular diet though, such as fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits.


A snack should be eaten ideally within one hour after swimming. After a hard session your body needs essential nutrients to kick start the growth and repair process. Both protein and carbohydrate are needed to build and repair muscle tissues and restore energy. Suggestions are:

Also see Swim England's website for meal ideas for young competitive swimmers.