Nutrition during the swim? How do I ensure I am getting all the nutrition needed?

Nutrition during the swim? How do I ensure I am getting all the nutrition needed?

On today's episode of TRI with CoachParry, we're talking all things nutrition and in particular nutrition strategies for the swim leg of the race. How do you ensure you have enough nutrition for your swim, especially when its a longer race such as IronMan. Coach Rudolf gives some tips and ideas on how best to do this as well as some other nutrition ideas for your transitions.

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Welcome back on to our next video, we're talking some triathlon today and we're talking about fueling around triathlon and particularly the swim. Rudolf Naude joins us once again, Rudolf, welcome on to the video. Thanks for joining us

How's it, Brad, thanks for having me.


Nutrition for your swim


Today's question is quite an interesting one. It popped up on our forums on and it's got to do with fueling. We all know, I mean, people always say that nutrition is the fourth discipline of triathlon but obviously the place you can't drink anything or eat anything is during the swim. It is the first discipline. How do you get around that? I mean, are there certain strategies you need to think about before the swim as far as fueling and getting ready for it? And out of the swim, how do you deal with it? What other sort of fueling tips can you give us as you go longer as well for like 70.3 and Iron Man distance?

So if we start basically from the sprint and Olympic distance, I would say the fueling, a lot of people are have a gel before the swim. That obviously depends on how well your stomach reacts to you having eaten before the swim because I know a lot of people, they get nauseous if they have a gel and then straight jump in the pool and do the swim. So that's also a tricky thing to do, but the main important thing is it depends on how long you had breakfast before your race. So you should have three hours or four hours before the race you had breakfast, or only one or two hours.

That would also depend on if you need a gel or not but for my recommendation, I would rather have the gel when you're getting to transition 2 or have a gel strapped on your bike. As soon as you're on your bike, then you have a gel straight after the swim because the swimming is such a short percentage of the race. And it's done first, it's not that you don't need the gel, but it's not going to help you win the race if you have the gel before the swim. So that's what I would do for sprints and Olympic distance. Whereas if it's an Iron Man, it might be different as it's a 3.8 kilometres swim. So again, depending on your breakfast, how long before the race you had your breakfast, and also how well your stomach reacts to having food in it while you swim.

So those are the two main important factors that you take into account for having nutrition in the swim. But for me, a rule of thumb is I normally have a gel into transition, into T2. So if you're doing Ironman or half Ironman, in your transition bag, where your helmet is, normally I have a gel there and then as I'm running towards my bike, I have my gel, jump on the bike, shoes on and then have a little sip of water just to help the gel go down a bit easier. And for me that is what I do with nutrition-wise swimming wise.


Always test in training sessions


You mentioned depending on what your stomach can take, you don't want to be testing this out in a race for the first time. You don't want to enter an Ironman and on the morning of Ironman decide you know what I'm gonna eat the gel before we get in the water because that's what my best mates doing. This is stuff you need to practice in training.

Yeah, so it's very simply in training. A lot of people swim three, four times a week so you can experiment in training with this, say have, if you swim in the mornings have breakfast three hours before and then try a gel straight before you jump into the pool and see how your stomach reacts towards that. And then also if you have just breakfast two hours before you jump in the pool, jump in the pool, do the set and see how you feel so that you can test that out. So that's what training is there for, to testing out so that on race day you don't do anything new because that might hamper your race or something as small as that might cause the rest of your race, you train months for Ironman and then you do something silly as eat a gel that you're not used to and then there goes your race out the window.

Feeding the fish in the bay is not a good thing. Rudolf, thank you very much for your time here on TRI with Coach Parry. Don't forget if you want to check out the Coach Parry online training platform we have got you covered from a training programme perspective from beginner sprint programmes right through to advanced Ironman distance.

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