Olympic Swimmers Work Hard In and Out of the Water


Whether competing in the 50 meter Freestyle or the 10K Marathon, the preparation for Olympic swimmers is much more than just practicing in the water. Swimmers also must take part in strength and conditioning sessions, follow specific nutritional guidelines and be prepared mentally for competing against the world’s best in the sport.


Did You Say No Water?

Known to the elite swimmer as the dry land routine, this consists of conditioning sessions which are used by athletes of many sports. For instance, coaches will have their swimmers do plyometric box jumps to build a swimmer’s lower body. There are also specific exercises to improve a swimmer’s range of motion, and fighting the body’s fatigue factors. Weight training, running and drills which use a medicine ball are common among swimmers of all Olympic events.

The Black Line

It’s the thick black paint, located at the center of each pool lane, and it is something the Olympic swimmer calls the ‘life’ line. Practice after practice the swimmers (unless in the backstroke) will keep an eye on the black line as they complete lap after lap during typical three hour pool sessions. Not all this time is spent on a swimmer’s specialty event. A lot of it includes drills to work various aspects of the entire swimming performance. Drills will concentrate on a swimmer being able to increase hip movement, use of the core muscles and getting faster feet. Add a typical practice totaling six or more thousand kilometers (a few thousand less on ‘taper’ days) and it is easy to see why Olympic swimmers are among the fittest of any athletic participants.


Despite the much-ballyhooed ‘unhealthy’ diet of gold medalist Michael Phelps, swimming coaches and nutrition advisors steer Olympic swimmers to proper nutrition as part of overall training. Swimming at the elite level burns up a lot of calories, but it doesn’t mean the calorie replacement should include sugar-laden, fried or processed foods. Also, the jury is out regarding replacing ‘real’ food with specialized ‘sports foods.’ With real food, it is easy to figure the amount of protein, vitamins and nutrients are actually being absorbed by the swimmer’s body.

Swimmers Getting Older

U.S. Olympic swimmers have come a long way since a 13-year-old Donna de Varona was part of the women’s preliminary heats in the 4×100 relay. The average ages of men and women Olympic swimmers has increased over the past 60 years. A published report shows the average age of a male medalist in the 2012 Olympics was 26.2 years. This compares to the average age of 21.2 during the 1984 games. For U.S. women, the average ages of swimmers winning medals has not risen as drastically. In the ’84 Olympics, the average age was 18.4 years, compared to 21.4 years at the 2012 games. Better funding of Olympic athletes in the U.S., as well as more concentrated training efforts and better nutrition guidelines are believed to be valid reasons for athletes remaining active in Olympic swimming for a longer period of time.

Perhaps you have overlooked swimming for a while because it may not seem like a challenging sport, however at the beginning or Olympic level it is very physically demanding and competitive. If you haven’t done so, give it a chance you might be the next US Olympic swimmer …or diver.


5 Healthy Breakfasts to Kick Start Your Kid’s Day


Your kid has a lot to do today. There are trees to climb, problems to solve and games to be played. To make sure they start off on the right foot, give them a healthy breakfast to energize them for the day ahead.


Whether your kid is heading off to day of learning at school or a day of running riot at summer camp, they’ll need a decent breakfast to make sure they have the energy they need. It’s hard work being a kid and having the right fuel in your belly can make all the difference. Here are five healthy breakfasts for your child to enjoy this week:


  1. Oh-what-a-beautiful-morning oatmeal

Oatmeal is full of energy and will help keep your child feeling satisfied long into the day, however it isn’t super heavy so they won’t feel too full to move either. If your child has a sweet tooth, try adding coconut oil for a sugar-free way of sweetening up this breakfast option. You could also add cinnamon for some extra flavor. Experiment with different flavors and toppings to spice up this breakfast option.


  1. Peanut butter towers

Peanut butter is a great energizing food. It’s high on fat which is great for the brain, and contains lots of essential vitamins. Peanut butter towers combine the health benefits of peanut butter with the tantalizing sweetness of fruit. Let your kid choose which fruit they wants to use (banana or apple both work great), cut the fruit into slices and then layer up with peanut butter until you have (yep, you guessed it)… a tower!


  1. Sun’s-coming-up smoothie

A smoothie is a great way to give your child a boost of vitamins, minerals and energy at the start of the day. It’s also something that can be easily adapted each day so your kid will never say “mom, I don’t want a strawberry smoothie again”. Experiment with different flavors and ingredients until you perfect your recipes, and don’t be disheartened if it takes you a few tries to get it right. Add a small handful of mixed seeds and nuts for that extra vitamin boost your child will need throughout the day. Depending on the flavor, your smoothie will have a different color; spinach smoothies are green, berry smoothies are purple and mango smoothies yellow… they make for very fun drinks!


  1. Quite-the-morning quinoa fruit salad

A fruit salad is bound to be a hit with the kids. It’s naturally sweet, bursting with flavor and can be tweaked to fit their tastes. The only downside to a fruit salad is that it doesn’t leave you with a full tummy, in fact, your kids might feel hungry again not long after eating this. By adding some cooked quinoa to the fruit salad, you can ensure your child is getting that extra little bit of sustenance to keep them going until lunch. Simply stir in some cooked quinoa to your fruit salad and voila – enjoy!


  1. Breakfast burrito

The breakfast burrito is delicious, great to eat on-the-go and way better than toast. Toast is just food on top of bread, a breakfast burrito is food in a tortilla. See the difference? You can fill the burrito up with whatever you like. Great fillers include mashed avocado (full of energy and good fats), black beans (these bad boys will help your child feel full for longer) and salsa (it doesn’t sound like a breakfast food, but trust us).


These are only a few options for a nutritious breakfast that will be a total hit with your young athletes. Its always a good idea to involve them in the process of cooking like putting fruit in the blender or wrapping up the burrito, it makes it more fun for them and easier for you.

Young football players

Sensible Eating For The Teen Athlete

Most teen athletes will agree it is important to include a vigorous physical training regimen as part of their efforts to reach premiere levels of athletic performance. Weightlifting and cardiovascular conditioning are a mere afterthought to the dedicated athletic teenager. An area often times ignored, but equally vital to the overall well-being of young sports performers as those methods of physical conditioning just mentioned, is the importance of following a proper nutrition regimen.

U.S. dietary guidelines suggest a daily intake of 2,400 calories for teen girls 14-18 years of age. For boys of the same age group, a daily intake of approximately 3,000 calories is recommended. Interestingly both of these figures are about 500 calories above the recommended rate for adult men and women. Add the additional calorie burning by the average teen athlete during training, practices and games and the importance of sensible eating increases.

Nutrition needs to start at zero, literally. Zero is the number of calories in water and water is a great starting point when discussing sensible eating. A teen’s body is made up of 60 percent water. Muscle is actually 70 percent water and having a two percent water loss will affect an athlete’s performance. Not properly hydrating the body can have serious consequences. Dietary experts have a simple water-intake formula. Teens weighing over 100 pounds should be drinking 50 percent of their body weight ‘in ounces.’ (150 lb weight = 75 oz. of water, e.g.) Young athletes can start off on the right foot nutritionally by drinking 12 ounces of water upon waking up, and then continue the practice of hydrating throughout the day.

When it comes to actual food, a diet for a teen should include:

  • 45-65 percent carbohydrates (oatmeal, whole grain rice/pasta, yogurt)
  • 25-35 percent fats (fish oils, nuts, avocados)
  • ½ a gram per pound proteins, 150 lb. teen = 75 grams, e.g. (eggs, seafood, poultry)

Carbohydrates efficiently fuel production of body energy which is integral in an athlete’s performance in the areas of endurance and power. Some fats are actually good for the body. Omega-3 and monosaturated fats assist in moving substances in and out of body cells. These fats also help brain and nervous system health. Proteins make red blood cells (brings oxygen to muscle) and white blood cells (fights infections). Proteins also make hormones which assist in repairing muscles after workouts/games. Vitamins and minerals should be available for the body through healthy choices in fruits and vegetables, and a daily multi-vitamin will help teen athletes as well.

The importance of breakfast is widely known, but for teen athletes it can be difficult due to early morning practices. Even a healthy breakfast, if eaten less than 45 minutes prior to a game or workout, can cause athletes problems. Simplify it by eating something light like a whole wheat bagel (minus the cream cheese) or a banana. Be sure to have a healthy snack available after the morning session – like chocolate milk. Recent studies have concluded chocolate milk to be as good as sports drinks in the replacement of electrolytes and carbohydrates after a workout or game.

Figuring out a set of eating habits can be challenging, specially as a teenager but it is all about balance, and listening to your own body. If you drink enough water, maintain a healthy carbs, fats and protein ratio and don’t forget about breakfast you are on the right track.

5 Energizing Pre-Game Snacks For kids

Synopsis: Kids need as much energy as possible when they’re on the pitch, but convincing them to eat a healthy pre-game snack isn’t always easy. Check out these great suggestions for energizing fuel. —

543Your child is about to score the winning touchdown or race across the finish line. To do that, she needs as much energy as she can muster. She needs to be well rested, warmed up and have a body full of energizing fuel. Trying to convince her to eat something healthy before the big game might not always be easy, so here are a few tasty suggestions she won’t want to turn down:

#1: Peanut Butter Bana-wich

Peanut butter is up there amongst the best pre-game snacks out there. Filled with healthy fat, peanut butter is a great food to fuel your young athlete. Bananas are another favorite snack amongst athletes, they’re high in energy and provide a fast acting energy boost. Try cutting a banana in half lengthways, and then spread one side with peanut butter (go for one with no added salt or sugar), then place the other half on top so you have a breadless and delicious sandwich.

#2: Energy Balls

These are easy to at home and the recipe can be altered each time to keep them exciting. You’ll need a selection of nuts and seeds and an equal amount of dried fruit. Stick them in a blender and put it on high until they’re broken down. Then add some coconut oil and vanilla extract. Whizz together, roll into bite size balls and let them cool in the fridge. You could also try adding bananas, oats, peanut butter or dark chocolate, choose what your child likes best!

#3: Fruit Kebab

A more exciting twist on the traditional fruit salad, a fruit kebab allows your child to enjoy a rainbow of fruit goodness. Fill a kebab stick with slices of fruit including banana, apple, melon, orange and grapes. These will provide your child with a boost of vitamins and minerals that encourage mental focus as well as release energy. If your child isn’t a fan of eating fruit, try whizzing up the ingredients into a smoothie instead.

#4: Hummus Dip

Hummus is high in protein and a great way of giving your child some extra energy before a game. Take a pot of hummus and a selection of things to dip. Peppers, cucumber, apples, carrots and pita bread are all great options. Not only do they taste great, but they’ll provide a mix of essential vitamins and minerals that may help boost your child’s performance on the pitch. #5: Yogurt Fresh fruit and natural yogurt is always a popular choice, and a smart option for your young athlete. The fruit will provide energy as well as much-needed vitamins and minerals. The yogurt provides protein and makes the fruit irresistible, For added carbs, throw in a bunch of granola too. A sprinkling of nuts and seeds can be used to top it off as well, offering even more of a boost to your kid before the big game.

Proper Nutrition for the Youth Athlete

Synopsis: Quitting time for Mom and Dad is five o’clock. Bobby’s soccer game is at six, while Susie’s volleyball game is two miles away from the soccer field and starts just 15-minutes later. This leaves little time for grabbing a healthy pregame meal. With a bit of preparation, an unfortunate trip to the fast food drive-through can be avoided.


The pre-game meal for youth athletes does not have to be complicated. Just as parents pack a school lunch for kids, they should also pack a pregame meal which can be eaten an hour before game time or practice. A peanut butter sandwich, fruit (like an apple, orange or grapes), yogurt and carrot sticks can supply the energy needed for a youngster to participate in a sports activity. If a child is old enough to safely operate a microwave, prepare a serving of pasta or rice to be reheated. It is a solid choice as a pregame meal and it has carbohydrate intake to supply energy. It is best to caution on the ‘light’ side when it comes to pregame foods. If there is not enough time for an actual meal, let the young athlete munch on a granola bar, trail mix or pretzels.

The best drink solution when faced with the short time allotted between a meal and game activity is a non-carbonated sports drink. Many nutritional programs for professional athletes involve a game day regimen of pre-hydration via such drinks. Stay away from the sugary, carbonated beverages. Water is also a great option.

Make sure the meal the night before an athletic event is also healthy and balanced. A meal consisting of a combination of carbohydrates, a little protein and fruit can provide the stored energy required for athletic competition. Poultry, fish, beans and other legumes can supply the protein which will help muscle building and quicker recovery time for the athlete. Breads, milk and vegetables provide the carbohydrates. A healthy breakfast adds fuel as well. Cereals, milk and fruit contribute much needed nutrients.

Don’t forget the postgame nutrition. A lot of calories are burned off when a kid plays an hour or more of soccer, football or basketball. It has been determined chocolate milk to be an excellent choice after an athletic event. Some say it is better than a sports drink for replacing nutrients lost from sweat. Chocolate milk is a good source of potassium, sodium and electrolytes. The fact it takes milk longer to leave the stomach means more of the nutrients are absorbed by the body. Chocolate milk is also a great source for protein and carbohydrates which assist in muscle recovery and muscle building.

Of course, the best postgame meal is one where the entire family is involved. Take advantage of winding down with everyone involved, whether it is over one of Dad’s grilled steaks or surrounding a pizza picked up on the way home.