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Gregory Shaw, Kevin T. Boyd, Louise M. Burke and Anu Koivisto

Swimming is a sport that requires considerable training commitment to reach individual performance goals. Nutrition requirements are specific to the macrocycle, microcycle, and individual session. Swimmers should ensure suitable energy availability to support training while maintaining long term health. Carbohydrate intake, both over the day and in relation to a workout, should be manipulated (3–10g/kg of body mass/day) according to the fuel demands of training and the varying importance of undertaking these sessions with high carbohydrate availability. Swimmers should aim to consume 0.3g of high-biological-value protein per kilogram of body mass immediately after key sessions and at regular intervals throughout the day to promote tissue adaptation. A mixed diet consisting of a variety of nutrient-dense food choices should be sufficient to meet the micronutrient requirements of most swimmers. Specific dietary supplements may prove beneficial to swimmers in unique situations, but should be tried only with the support of trained professionals. All swimmers, particularly adolescent and youth swimmers, are encouraged to focus on a well-planned diet to maximize training performance, which ensures sufficient energy availability especially during periods of growth and development. Swimmers are encouraged to avoid rapid weight fluctuations; rather, optimal body composition should be achieved over longer periods by modest dietary modifications that improve their food choices. During periods of reduced energy expenditure (taper, injury, off season) swimmers are encouraged to match energy intake to requirement. Swimmers undertaking demanding competition programs should ensure suitable recovery practices are used to maintain adequate glycogen stores over the entirety of the competition period.

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Gregory Shaw, Anu Koivisto, David Gerrard and Louise M. Burke

Open-water swimming (OWS) is a rapidly developing discipline. Events of 5–25 km are featured at FINA World Championships, and the international circuit includes races of 5–88 km. The Olympic OWS event, introduced in 2008, is contested over 10 km. Differing venues present changing environmental conditions, including water and ambient temperatures, humidity, solar radiation, and unpredictable tides. Furthermore, the duration of most OWS events (1–6 hr) creates unique physiological challenges to thermoregulation, hydration status, and muscle fuel stores. Current nutrition recommendations for open-water training and competition are either an extension of recommendations from pool swimming or are extrapolated from other athletic populations with similar physiological requirements. Competition nutrition should focus on optimizing prerace hydration and glycogen stores. Although swimmers should rely on self-supplied fuel and fluid sources for shorter events, for races of 10 km or greater, fluid and fuel replacement can occur from feeding pontoons when tactically appropriate. Over the longer races, feeding pontoons should be used to achieve desirable targets of up to 90 g/hr of carbohydrates from multitransportable sources. Exposure to variable water and ambient temperatures will play a significant role in determining race nutrition strategies. For example, in extreme environments, thermoregulation may be assisted by manipulating the temperature of the ingested fluids. Swimmers are encouraged to work with nutrition experts to develop effective and efficient strategies that enhance performance through appropriate in-competition nutrition.

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Ina Garthe, Truls Raastad, Per Egil Refsnes, Anu Koivisto and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen

When weight loss (WL) is necessary, athletes are advised to accomplish it gradually, at a rate of 0.5–1 kg/wk. However, it is possible that losing 0.5 kg/wk is better than 1 kg/wk in terms of preserving lean body mass (LBM) and performance. The aim of this study was to compare changes in body composition, strength, and power during a weekly body-weight (BW) loss of 0.7% slow reduction (SR) vs. 1.4% fast reduction (FR). We hypothesized that the faster WL regimen would result in more detrimental effects on both LBM and strength-related performance. Twenty-four athletes were randomized to SR (n = 13, 24 ± 3 yr, 71.9 ± 12.7 kg) or FR (n = 11, 22 ± 5 yr, 74.8 ± 11.7 kg). They followed energy-restricted diets promoting the predetermined weekly WL. All athletes included 4 resistance-training sessions/wk in their usual training regimen. The mean times spent in intervention for SR and FR were 8.5 ± 2.2 and 5.3 ± 0.9 wk, respectively (p < .001). BW, body composition (DEXA), 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) tests, 40-m sprint, and countermovement jump were measured before and after intervention. Energy intake was reduced by 19% ± 2% and 30% ± 4% in SR and FR, respectively (p = .003). BW and fat mass decreased in both SR and FR by 5.6% ± 0.8% and 5.5% ± 0.7% (0.7% ± 0.8% vs. 1.0% ± 0.4%/wk) and 31% ± 3% and 21 ± 4%, respectively. LBM increased in SR by 2.1% ± 0.4% (p < .001), whereas it was unchanged in FR (–0.2% ± 0.7%), with significant differences between groups (p < .01). In conclusion, data from this study suggest that athletes who want to gain LBM and increase 1RM strength during a WL period combined with strength training should aim for a weekly BW loss of 0.7%.