Four Travel Meet Tips

Photo Courtesy: Skitterphoto

By Kelsey Mitchell, Swimming World College Intern.

With swim meets come the inevitable obstacle of travel beforehand. Though not always obvious, traveling can take a lot out of an athlete and hinder performance, putting a damper on meets. Fear not, though – here are some tips and tricks to help you prevail despite the challenges that come with traveling.

1. Stay Hydrated


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Due to necessary air circulation in planes, the air in the cabin is often extremely dry, leaving passengers thirsty and dehydrated. As a passenger in a bus or van, dehydration can be caused by cold air conditioning, sweating due to high car temperatures and changes in air quality. Normally, this isn’t too much of an issue; however, as an athlete, staying hydrated is a key component to peak athletic performance. According to a study done at the University of British Columbia, dehydration can reduce aerobic endurance. To avoid becoming dehydrated the next time you travel, drink water or sports drinks, consume fruits and vegetables with high water content and avoid salty snacks and alcohol.

2. Rest Up


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No matter how deep of a sleeper you are, red-eye flights and eight-hour bus rides can take their toll on your energy levels. Amount of sleep is linked to athletic performance, and coaches often stress resting more than normal while at important meets. Some coaches find sleep important enough to cancel morning practices during the week of a big meet.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, a lack of concentration, higher amounts of the stress, a decrease in glycogen production and slower athletic recovery times. No athlete wants to encounter these setbacks, so be sure to rest after travel. Go to bed early and keep your sleep schedule consistent during periods of competition.

3. Fuel Up


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It can be easy to munch on gummy bears and potato chips while on a road trip or a plane: they’re easy, convenient and tasty. Be warned – avoid the urge to splurge on these foods! Your body needs high quality fuel to perform at its peak, so filling it with gummy bears and potato chips won’t speed you to victory. Pick foods full of complex carbohydrates for your body to use while racing, like whole grain pasta. Foods with lean proteins are also useful, as your body uses these proteins to rebuild muscle. If you know you’ll be unable to get any of these foods while you travel, pack some nutrient-dense snacks before you depart. A properly fueled body is a fast body!

4. Stay Focused


Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-UVM Photo

Traveling for hours on end can take a heavy toll on your mind, not just your body. With the many stresses and distractions one can encounter on the road or in the sky, it can be easy to lose focus and let your mind drift away from your competition. These long periods of waiting are wonderful opportunities for those nervous pre-race thoughts to creep in. Rather than fall prey to these unproductive thoughts, channel your energy and focus on meet preparation. Talk to your teammates and coaches, read your favorite book, visualize your races and get excited, because your new best time is only a short ride away!

With these tips you are now prepared to travel all over the big, wide swimming world! Get out there, hydrate, rest, refuel, focus and set some new personal best times! What are your favorite ways to prepare for travel meets?

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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