What Should Your Child Eat At Swim Meets?

by SwimSwam Contributors 21

January 17th, 2017 Lifestyle, Opinion

By Elizabeth Wickham

In a recent story, someone commented, When and what should swimmers eat during meets?I discussed this question with several swim moms from a variety of backgrounds, including two nurses, former swimmers, athletes, a dietitian and parents of Olympians, to find out their advice about nutrition at meets.

Although none of them claim to be experts, they have years of experience and have learned what things do and do not work for their kids. They provided five practical tips and a list of foods their swimmers eat at meets.


Know your child.

Each swimmer is different and they can tolerate different things. One swimmer was sensitive to certain foods like a hamburger. She would be in pain after eating one but had no problem with rice and a hard boiled egg. Other swimmers can eat a hamburger the day of a race and get best times. Also, make sure swimmers know its important to drink liquids and stay hydrated.



Swimmers need a recovery drink or food within 30 minutes after they race. When theyre young, parents need to be in charge of this. Chocolate milk is the preferred drink of each mom I interviewed. It has a good ratio of carbohydrates to protein to replenish needed nutrients after practice or a race. Boost, Ensure and other protein drinks are great because they are fortified with protein and vitamins, but your kids have to like the taste.


Don’t try something new.

If your child got a best time eating a certain meal such as sushi or cheese pizza, dont mess with it. You dont want to try a completely new food, because it might not agree with your child. Also, give them plenty of time to digest. One swim mom suggested eating at least two hours before they race. Another mom, who is a nurse, said her kids snack on healthy fruits and nuts throughout meets. Many swimmers like the same food for every meet.


Keep a consistent diet.

One swim mom, whos an athlete herself, made the comment that you dont eat healthy only during a meet. Swimmers need to have a healthy diet all the time as part of their lifestyle. Its just as important to eat well every day of the weeknot just at meetsfor optimum performance.


Read and research.

There are many great articles and books about nutrition and sports. Read the many articles on SwimSwam written by registered dietitians and experts. Youll learn so much about nutrition and the role it has in your swimmers health, growth and development.

Heres a list of suggested swim meet meals and snacks from swim moms:

Chocolate Milk

Carnation Instant Breakfast

Breakfast burrito

Egg and bagel sandwich

Rice with eggs


Coachs Oats



Almond butter and apples

Fresh fruit


Protein bars

Beef jerky

Homemade granola: nuts, honey, coconut oil, salt, shredded coconut and raisins

What is your swimmer’s favorite food at swim meets?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug.You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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4 years ago

Now I really want chocolate milk! It was the favorite after practice recovery drink for my daughters.

Don Bryan
4 years ago

I’m not a big fan of “manufactured” food (instant breakfast, most protein bars), but the above list is pretty good relative to other choices (red bull, and starbucks fraps). My kids have spent a of of time in denial, when it comes to the undeniable connection between food (fuel) and performance. Good article.

4 years ago

I always eat mad grapes

Reply to  Boi
3 years ago

me too… lol

4 years ago

Remember Fundip? That was my favorite nothing like pure sugar.

Mr. Retiree
4 years ago

I can say one thing: Always ensure that no Mentos candies are being sold at the concession stands, and if they are, forbid any swimmers from buying them. A young 10 and Under swimmer that I coached, back in the late 1980s, ended up in the emergency room due to drinking Coca Cola and eating Mentos at the same time. He was in bad shape until doctors administered whatever it was that counteracted the foaming pressure that had developed inside the boy’s stomach. No permanent damage, but a big scare.

4 years ago

I honestly found that I swam best with as little food as possible in my system. I generally swam best times if I hadn’t eaten for a few hours.

4 years ago

The story below point #1 could be due to a gluten intolerance. Even people with no gluten sensitivity would do well to avoid gluten, in order to keep their digestive system working optimally.

4 years ago

Walking tacos didn’t make the list?!? ????????????