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Swimming Fatigue

QUESTION:

Hi Gary,

My 10 year old son absolutely loves swimming and has been in squad training for about 4 years. He is a State medalist in two strokes and trains 10 hours a week.

For about the last two months he has become very fatigued and sore after training which continues throughout the next day. We have kept him away from training a few times, much to his disgust as he always wants to go.

He has a very balanced diet but I was wondering if he should be on a ‘recovery type’ supplement?

Look forward to your advice.

Thanking you,
M

ANSWER:

Hi M,

10 hours a week is a lot for a 10 year old and it may just be that as his body starts to grow more, it needs more energy and fuel to cope with growing, leaving less energy and fuel to cope with the training sessions and recovery.

I believe you are doing the right thing by ‘reading’ where his body is at and letting him miss the occasional session as the last thing you want is for him to become unwell because his body isn’t coping.

In regards to recovery supplements, my advice would be to ensure that he eats something within 30 minutes of completing a training session.  If you require more information about supplements specifically, I suggest you contact a health professional.

Below is an extract from www.NutritionForSwimmers.com in the ‘After Training’ section. This will assist you in regards to the right foods to eat.

“Recovery nutrition is a vital part of every swimmers overall recovery following a training session or competition.

Within 30 minutes of a session finishing, or earlier if possible, it is important to refuel, repair and rehydrate.

A snack that is high in carbohydrates, and contains protein is a great choice, and combined with some fluid is an ideal way to aid recovery. Swimmers should aim to eat and drink while getting changed, or on the way home from the pool.

The muscles use fuel to move and this fuel must be replaced. The muscles of the body can be likened to a cars fuel tank.  If the muscles are fully stocked with carbohydrate this is the equivalent to having a full tank of fuel in the car.  If the car is driven it will continue to go until the fuel tank runs out.  If the fuel tank is filled the car (barring mechanical failure) will continue to go.  This is what occurs in the muscles.

If the muscles are fully stocked with carbohydrate, an athlete will have enough fuel for approximately 90 – 120 minutes.  Once these stores start to run out they can simply be refilled by taking in more carbohydrate.  If the muscles are allowed to run out, fatigue will occur. If however the muscles are refilled throughout longer bouts of exercise, fatigue (and running out of fuel) can be prevented. 

This is also important over time as if the muscles are not restocked fully after each session; the fuel tank is already low for the next one.
After an exercise session it is important to consume a recovery snack or meal within 30 minutes to one hour at the latest.  This is because at the completion of exercise the blood flow around the body is still high providing the ideal time to send out more carbohydrate to the muscles to replace what has been lost.

If the athlete waits longer than this to have their recovery snack or meal, they risk not replacing the fuel supply, which then limits the supply available for the next training session or competition.

Examples of snacks include a fruit smoothie, liquid meal supplement (in a tetra box), flavoured milk (in a tetra box), sports bar, low fat yoghurt, dried fruit and rice cakes.”

Regards
Gary

The Swimming Expert

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2 Responses to Swimming Fatigue

  1. Gaynor March 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Hi Gary,
    Could failure to refuel after training sessions during the week be the reason why a swimmer swims fast times during the week in training, but then consistently swims much slower times and below his best in competitions on a Saturday?
    Regards,
    Gaynor

    • Gary March 4, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

      Hi Gaynor, that’s a really good point and yes it could be a reason.
      There is also the general fatigue factor from attending school all week along with training and then having to get up and race at your peak on a weekend.
      Regards
      Gary