The Swimmer’s Diet
Food is fuel for swimmers, so without food swimmers have no fuel to make it through practices and meets. Being hungry make swimmers grouchy, being full will make them sick when pushing hard in the water. Do not give your child a large meal right before practice. It’s better to give them a small, high carbohydrate/protein snack about an hour or more before practice: a bagel with cream cheese, granola/snack-type bars, muffins, nuts, cereal, or fruit. After practice, the sooner they can eat, the better to replenish the fuel tank. Studies have shown that the body absorbs nutrients better than and can recover more quickly from the workout. Even with the later Waves practices, it is better to have a few snacks beforehand and eat dinner after practice.
Some children will experience an increase in their appetites due to the amount of calories burned during a workout, and some children will not. This is something that differs from child to child.
Similarly, be sure your child is very well-hydrated. Swimmers sweat more than most other athletes because the pool water keeps washing the sweat off as it is formed, and the body is trying to stay cool continually. We highly recommend the swimmers bring a water bottle to practice.
Hard working swimmers and their parents have different dietary needs. Diet products, artificial sweeteners, fat substitutes, and highly processed foods are not a good idea for swimmers. We also discourage swimmers from consuming highly caffeinated, sugary drinks like Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Coke, Pepsi, etc. because they interfere with a swimmer’s development and behavior. And, they do not help to keep them hydrated!
Aches and Pains
Especially when your child first starts swimming, and when they move up to a higher level training group, their muscles will be tired and sore. That’s normal for first-time swimmers ad experienced swimmers at their first few practices. A warm soak in the tub or a hot shower is typically the best solution. An over-the-counter pain medication may be useful as well, but, eventually, your child won’t feel any lasting pains. Any severe or continuing pain, especially in the shoulder or knee region, should be brought to the coaches’ attention. You should also seek your physician’s advice.
Care of David F. Bennhoff, M.D., F.A.C.S. – ENT Group of Cleveland, Inc.
Swim team members need ear care more so than other athletes. Repeated episodes of water into the ear and onto the thin delicate skin of the ear canal outside the ear canal lead to puffiness of that skin and easy entry of bacteria, causing infection outside the eardrum known as Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa). This causes tenderness to the touch and can cause consistent pain, and even temporary hearing loss. For swim teams, prevention of external otitis means drying the ears thoroughly after immersion in the pool: (Tilting your head and jumping on one foot; toweling the ear with your finger; and even twisting a “wick” of Kleenex tissue to use as a soft probe to absorb water deep in the ear up against the eardrum), then putting three drops of a non-prescription antiseptic eardrop (Swim-Ear, Auro-Dri, Aqua-Ear, etc) into each ear as a preventative against infection.
Also, try to keep shower water from the ears by facing away from the shower and by bending the face to the floor during a shampoo rinse. This keeps water out of the ears.
Ear wax may retain water in the ears and contribute to the chance of external otitis. Three drops of baby oil daily can soften wax, which can then be rinsed out with lukewarm water using a rubber ear syringe. Then dry the ear just as after swimming.
If external otitis is bad enough, complete water avoidance, the placement of prescription antibiotic eardrops, and perhaps placement of a medicated wick in the ear canal are needed.
On another front, avoiding people with coughs and colds will prevent transmission of viruses to the nose and throat, which can lead to mucous fluid inside the eardrum, which affects hearing. This fluid also attracts bacteria which causes infection inside the eardrum (Otitis Media) with definite but temporary hearing loss, and pain which can be very, very, severe, even without tugging or manipulating the ear or chewing. Antibiotic tablets and decongestant tablets are prescribed for this problem, and swimming should probably be avoided temporarily.
There are several excellent products on the market for removing the damaging chloramines from swimmer’s hair. Any shampoo, however, is good enough to remove the chloramines and the dirt. The swimmers should wash their hair and rinse off the body after each practice, just to remove any chlorine residue. The pool at the Rec. Center is primarily sanitized with Bromine, which is much better for skin and hair. Bromine is more expensive but better for the Westside Waves swimmers’ practice environment.
It happens. And when it does, your child’s swimming performance will most likely change to adjust to the new body and mind that is developing. Patience and support are recommended. It is not uncommon for most girls to slow down considerably as a result of puberty due to the tremendous changes taking place and the enormous amount of energy being used in the process. On occasion, some girls may have diminished periods or skip them altogether when in training. If this is the case, please consult with your physician regarding your concerns on this issue. Again, each child is unique.