What are You Willing to Drink to Swim Fast?

Photo Courtesy: Sue Borst

By Olivia Wile, Swimming World College Intern.

In a sport that comes down to tenths of a second, swimmers must pay attention to numerous details of training in order to reach their goals. Breathing into or out of a turn, into the finish, or even having a short or long finish can cost an athlete the race. Choosing to diligently follow a strength and conditioning program, build a strong aerobic base and focus on sleep, nutrition and recovery can make or break a season.

What if there were other ways to guarantee success in the long run, or at least aid in the process of achieving it? Here are three ways to improve your recovery and possibly improve performance over time:

1. Beetroot Juice

beet-juice...jpg freetips.com

Photo Courtesy: freetips.com

Due to its high amount of nitrate, this super vegetable helps aid the body in producing more nitric oxide, which can help open up blood vessels both before and during practice. Increased blood flow enables the body to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles and carry away more waste products. When is the last time a swimmer complained about having better oxygenation during an underwater kickout, a race, or even an entire practice? Never. So if you can get past the chalky texture and blood-like color and taste, your lungs may start to thank you.

Beetroot is sold as a powder, in juice and even in tablet form: plenty of options for better oxygen.

This isn’t the first time Swimming World has pondered the power of beetroot and its impact on performance; click here to check out its benefits in more depth.

2. Pickle Juice

According to Active.com, every athlete should drink pickle juice. Studies suggest that the sodium in the liquid can reduce cramping and also improve hydration. Athletes don’t have to down gulps of pickle juice either, a simple tablespoon is enough to do the trick.

The vinegar in pickle juice has also been proven helpful in glycogen replenishment. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates, which are the most readily available energy source during intense physical activity. As a result, replenishing glycogen stores that were depleted during the workout helps rebuild energy stores to break down (ATP) for the next training session.

If swimmers can stand the bitter taste, it may be worth their while! To read more about the potential powers of pickle juice, click here.

3. Protein Powder

protein-shake wikimedia

Photo Courtesy: wikimedia

Though protein powder isn’t exclusive to swimmers, it can still be effective in enhancing overall performance. Like the beet root, the texture and flavors may not be the most appetizing. However, there are suggested benefits of taking a protein shake after heavy exercise: a task swimmers are no stranger to.

In drinking a protein shake 15-30 minutes after lifting or swimming, the body produces amino acids which help maximize and maintain muscle mass, can help boost the immune system and also aid in recovery. This could translate into less sickness and soreness. To read more about the suggested benefits and different types of protein powder, click here.

This is not to discredit natural or other readily available forms of protein, however, such as chocolate milk, chicken breasts or eggs. Though research has been devoted to the support of protein powder, it can be argued that the main benefit of protein powder is simply convenience. To read more about the potential benefits and drawbacks of protein powder, click here.

The potential for better recovery and additional muscle mass makes it hard to resist at least trying it!

A Little Pickle Juice a Day Keeps the Cramping Away

Though these drinks may not be the most appealing before or after practice or a race, the long-term benefits may outweigh the cost. There are many different brands and ways to consume pickle juice, beetroot and protein, so trying out different options is a possibility.

At the end of the day, less cramping, more oxygen and more muscle mass may be worth it!

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


  1. avatar

    Extremely well written article.