Hydration and Rehydration in Swimmers.


In order to be a top swimmer you have to be prepared to train every aspect of your life.




When you perform physical exercise you will lose a lot of moisture from your body through sweating. Even though you don't realise it when you swim you are sweating. But, because you are completely surrounded by water, you don't really notice it as you would if you were performing sport on land.


So we have to make sure you realise you are losing fluid (dehydration) from your bodies and we have to make sure you are replacing it (rehydration).


Dehydration can affect your swim performance and causes other effects such as tiredness, headaches and confusion or poor judgement.

Fluid really can be the magic ingredient in your training and is one of the best ways to optimise swim performance.

It's good to drink. It's BETTER to drink enough!!!! Just a 2% dehydration in a swimmer can negatively affect their performance.


Be a happy swimmer and reach your potential.....Just drink!!!!!

There are two reasons to drink fluids to stay hydrated and to provide the body with fuel.


During your swim session:

Regardless of age or length of work out, all athletes need fluids during practice to stay hydrated. This is easily accomplished with a couple of sips from the water bottle every 15 to 20 minutes. As athlete progress, workouts get longer and tougher, it's well established that exercise beyond 90 minutes benefits from an extra fuel source. Sports drink can provide it. But we still have hydration to think about. Drinks that are too strong or 'concentrated', can provide of the fuel but also stop fluid absorption and often lead to cramping.


Years of research tells us that drinks that are 6 to 8% carbohydrate by weight provided the perfect balance. Enough carbohydrate to provide a fuel source during the long exercise, but not so much that will stop fluid absorption. A couple of sips every 15 to 20 minutes keep the body field and maintains hydration. Talk to your coach because many sports drinks will be too strong and not necessary for a young swimmer.


After your swim session:

Water is an excellent choice to replenish fluids after training. Half water and half juice will provide some carbohydrates that you have worked off during the session. The recommended after swim drink by a British swimming nutritionist for age groupers is chocolate milk!!!


Carbohydrate is the primary fuel source during tough training, protein is used as a fuel source during exercise only when there isn't enough carbohydrate and fat. If you have a long hard training session, your body it might use much of it stored carbohydrate, and it must find an additional source of fuel. If it can't find that fuel or isn't given that fuel, the body it will look somewhere else and it will decide to use your stored protein - muscles!!!! You don't want that!!!! And that is why it is important to replace carbohydrate stores lost during training so you start the next workout with a full tank of gas!


There is a best time that you can achieve rehydration out of the pool - it's 30 minutes. That's the maximum amount of time after training for you to rehydrate with best effect. If you can rehydrate within this window of time you can be sure to have given your body time to refuel.


You need to drink about half to 1 L of fluid for every kilogram lost. Or half a litre for every hour of training. But age group as don't need to worry about getting to specific, just to make sure you drink regularly during the day, a bit more during training and a lot within 30 minutes of finishing the session.


Staying hydrated is a constant effort for many swimmers, requiring a hydration plan around exercise and watching for signs of dehydration. And young athletes, a plan for drinking enough fluids throughout the day is the best defence against dehydration. Aim for 1 L each day in addition to training fluids.


As a committed swimmer, it would be great if you could know what your body well enough to make adjustments when things are not running as good as they should be.


Here are three easy ways to check your hydration status:



If you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Using a scale of 1 to 9, with one being not thirsty at all to 9 being very, very thirsty, researchers have found that young athletes falling between a three and five likely had a 1 to 2% dehydration.

However, first may not always work for young athletes as a signal to drink. More recent research has shown that young athletes may not recognise thirst, or they may deny it, being distracted by other events. For this reason, it is important for parents and coaches to remind you and swimmers to drink fluids.


Urine Colour:

Urine colour charts have been developed to help young athletes know when they are dehydrated. Ideally, swimmers want their urine colour to be a pale yellow (like fresh squeezed lemonade or lemon juice) indicating adequate hydration. A strong yellow, orange yellow, or brownish green colour means the athlete is dehydrated and needs to begin drinking pronto!



A before and after swimming, bodyweight is another method for identifying dehydration after training. For every kilo lost, half a litre of fluid should be consumed to replenish your hydration state.


For parents...

Most importantly, the choice of fluid should be something the swimmer likes to drink, as drinking adequate amounts is critical. Sports drinks are perfect for the long workout (greater than one hour in duration), and provide sugar, fluid and electrolytes to help beat hydration. And they are effective! Because they are flavoured, they encourage drinking. But they need to be limited to the pool and not affect the absorption of fluids.


Sugary drinks and fizzy drinks are are no no! They shouldn't have any part in an athletes diet, as well as being full of empty calories, fizzy drinks can greatly affect metabolism. Energy drinks are popular among teenagers and young adults. They are marketed as a quick way to boost mental energy and improve performance. There is beverages are not appropriate for fluid replacement during exercise. They are full of caffeine and other stimulants that can make you feel jittery and lead to dehydration. They also contain too many carbs to be used for fluid replacement and may lead to stomach distress if consumed too close to the beginning of exercise.


Good – 100% real fruit juice

Better – milk, or calcium/vitamin D fortified milk substitutes

Best – drink water, more than you think! The bulk of beverages should be from water. Use sports drinks wisely and target they use it around training and race day.


30 minute window : 500ml per hour of training : 1Litre per day