Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nutrition Part I: Hydration... but Mom I'm not thirsty!?

Athletes need more calories and fluid than non-athletes.  THEREFORE:

More calories should come in the form of carbohydrates (wheat/fruit/cereal)

More fluid should come in the form of water or Gatorade.


Our first topic is going to be hydration!


                PowerAde has finally put money into researching their product and has improved their brand dramatically- it used to have a bad rap due to the little research and the high percent of sugar, however, it has improved a LOT and is second to Gatorade. 

                                Sports drinks rehydrate the body by replenishing it with electrolytes and sugars the body uses to create energy with.

                                “Energy” drinks should not be confused with sports drinks as they do nothing to rehydrate the body but are designed to boost energy by using caffeine, sugars, and other ingredients that are not considered safe to use when exercising.

                                The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents do not exceed 100 mg of caffeine a day. 

Instead of caffeine-

Make sure they are getting 8 hours of sleep a day

Make sure they are properly hydrated with 8 different servings of 8 ounces of water

Limit their sugar and fatty food intake

Hydration is one of the most important nutritional concerns for an athlete.  More often than not, people wait to drink until they are thirsty.  However, thirst is not an accurate indicator of how much fluid a person has lost.  Encourage your athlete to drink water BEFORE he/she is actually thirsty.  When they drink enough only to quench their thirst, they most likely will still be dehydrated.  For best results:

                Encourage your athlete to drink water throughout the day

                Make sure they keep a bottle of fluid available when exercising

                Do not restrict fluids before, during, or after exercise

                Do not rely on thirst as an indicator.

If your athlete is exercising for 60 minutes or less WATER is the BEST option, if they don’t like water and prefer a sports drink then you should mix it half water/half sports drink.  Sports drinks contain too much sodium and sugar and that content is not needed during or after light exercising.  For 60 minutes or more sports drinks are designed to replace sodium lost through perspiration and the sugar is to maintain glucose levels at a time when muscle glycogen stores are diminished. 
AS ADULTS!  AS PARENTS!  It’s our job to educate and advocate for our athletes!  If you are seeing an athlete with an energy drink inform them, educate them!  If we are at a place that is selling energy drinks to athletes, ask them about it!  What place do these dangerous products have at our children’s sporting events?  What message is this sending kids about temporary fixes to problems?  Talk to your athlete about the difference in sports and energy drinks.

Article about Orange Juice-  Orange juice is a great source of nutrients, HOWEVER, it should not exceed the daily limit, NOR should it be drinken before or during a race.  It is too sugary and acidic to benefit an athlete. 

My personal opinion when it comes to hydration and athletes?  Drink BEFORE DURING and AFTER-

                Water or watered down Gatorade/PowerAde before or during and chocolate milk after. 

put:  Water will replace fluid loss from sweat- chocolate milk will replace carbs loss in energy use.  See article: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/superfoods/chocolate-milk-after-workout/
******* Disclaimer- I am by no means stating I am an expert on any of this.  I am only combining my research, classes I have taken, articles, and scientific studies to form my best opinion.  **********

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seahorses Stomp out Social Issues

This month we have been discussing BULLYING.  This is something every kid has been involved in.  They may have been bullied, been a bystander, or have been the one bullying.  We learned a lot of interesting facts (sad facts) as well as some strategies on what to do if we see bullying or are being bullied.

Frequency of Bullying
  • 1 in every 4 kids K-12 are bullied
  • 160,000 kids stay home EVERY day for fear of being bullied or made fun of
  • Of all 50 states, Illinois is the THIRD worst in bullying... right behind California and New York

My goal is that our swimmers become the kid that can do something- they become more than just a bystander but an advocate.

Going back to the month of FEBRUARY- when we did our research on our inspirational people with disabilities... Malorie Grennan came to visit us on Monday. She spoke to the swimmers about her life. Malorie was a member of the Sterling Stingrays, she joined when she was 12. She went on to swim in both the 2004 and 2008 Paralympics and was ranked globally in her division. Malorie has cerebal palsy but didn't let that be an excuse in her life. Malorie now works as a social worker and is an advocate for children. We are so appreciative that she could join us and speak to us. I think she spoke into each one of those kids and was a perfect transition between the two social topics we've discussed this year..... Disabilities or differences... and Bullying. This is a perfect intro to welcoming new swimmers to our team. MSSC is currently working on an anti-bullying policy as required by USA Swimming. You will be seeing that online and in your mailbox in the next few weeks. As parents.. PLEASE talk to your kids about this. DON'T ASSUME they get the talk at school, because they do.... however, you are their biggest inspiration and the most important person in their life, they need to hear it from YOU. Together we can instill values into our youth, who are our future leaders of tomorrow.

Here are some talking points:

Bullying Definition

A boy is bulliedBullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Types of Bullying 

There are three of the four types of bullying:
  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
    • Teasing
    • Name-calling
    • Inappropriate sexual comments
    • Taunting
    • Threatening to cause harm
  • Indirect or Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships.  Indirect or Social bullying includes:
    • Leaving someone out on purpose
    • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
    • Spreading rumors about someone
    • Embarrassing someone in public
  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
    • Hitting/kicking/pinching
    • Spitting
    • Tripping/pushing
    • Taking or breaking someone’s things
    • Making mean or rude hand gestures

Where and When Bullying Happens 
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.

Monday, April 8, 2013

When Conditioning Fails....

Back in the water after 2 weeks or even a month off, in swimmer time equals PAIN.  Your body feels unnatural.  One of my swimmers said it's like they are a blob in the water.  Even a week off in swimmer time = slower times and reconditioning. 

When conditioning fails.  No not the kind you put in your hair.  When physical conditioning- preparation, practice, commitment to the sport, fails.... whether you were sick, broke a bone, suffered a loss in the family, off season, different sport, or lack of commitment... THAT is when technique will get you through.

When conditioning fails- rely on your technique.

What does that mean in hindsight????

Work on your technique first.  Make sure you are doing it right.  From Polliwogs on up- I've always said technique over speed.  I don't care if you can do it fast, I care if you can do it right. 

With technique will come.....  SPEED.

So- back to the basic Mondays are designed to break it down and to retrain those bad habits and form good ones.  We break down one part of a stroke and focus on it.  Sometimes it's your tight streamline and underwater dolphin because we've gotten lazy off the walls.  Sometimes it's the catch and reach in freestyle because we aren't maximize our potential.  Sometimes it's breaststroke kick because we aren't whipping and squeezing.  We are focusing on technique because with it will come speed.  Even Michael Phelps has something to work on when it comes to his technique.  That's the thing about technique it's constantly evolving or changing and so are you.  SURE there are things that are always constant.  Tight streamlines... that is NEVER going to change.  But all this talk about butterfly kick after a breaststroke start just supports that statement.  Your body is constantly changing and with change comes an awkward stroke that will need adjusting.

Any parents reading this remember what it's like to try to start working out after days, months, (cough...) years (cough, cough).  Your body is out of shape but your mind isn't. 

Another note before closing.  We have some NATURAL swimmers on our team.  This means it comes easier to them, their body takes over and naturally has a good-great technique.  However, without hard work, it will only get them so far.  In the younger age levels they will be fine... but when they start aging up or getting older, without hard work, they will not excel and will fall behind the pack.

Support your swimmers in the next couple of weeks.  Explain to your athlete the importance of hard work and technique- NOT speed.   Hard work will pay off, but with results comes some aches and pains and more importantly time in the water doing it right.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lung adaptations!?

Check out this article on swimmer's lungs!!!  

USA Swimming article

Also...  Not only is your personal smoking bad for your own health, it's negative effects on your swimmer's lungs and health is daunting as well!  Think twice before lighting up....

Thursday, March 21, 2013


USA Swimming nutrition article


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Fun foods -- medium for web.BY JILL CASTLE, MS, RD

Parents and coaches want their swimmers to feel good, eat well and perform to their best ability. But that’s not always easy to accomplish when you have growing bodies, different food preferences and developmental influences to consider. 

At a recent swim meet, I heard a variety of food complaints from parents: 

“Sarah didn’t eat at all during the meet!”

“Every time I saw Sam, he was at the concession stand eating fruit snacks. He had at least 3 bags this afternoon!”

“Emily had a stomachache all morning. I think she ate too much for breakfast.”

Parents are up against a wide variety of eating challenges as their swimmers grow. For example, 8-year-old Josh is a selective eater. He wants the same thing to eat every day, and it’s often a processed food item. 

Fourteen-year-old Kate is hungry all the time, and prefers snacks to meals. And 17 year-old Max drives through the fast-food establishment several days each week on the way home from practice. 

Knowing what to feed a swimmer is challenging enough, but even when all the nutrition ducks are in a row, getting a swimmer to make the right food choices is a whole different battle. 

So how can swimmers be encouraged to eat well? 

Set up a Healthy Food Environment: Parents are the “nutritional gatekeepers.” That is, they control the majority of food that gets purchased, stocked and prepared in the home. They also control how frequently the family eats together, dines out, visits fast food joints, and the purse strings (the money). As swimmers age, parents have less control over these factors, which is why it’s important to establish a nutritious food environment early on. If healthy foods are available at home, the swimmer will be more likely to eat them. 

Encourage Fueling: Swimmers who want to perform their best need to have nutrition on board. It makes a difference! Swimming on an empty stomach, a tummy full of sugar or fried foods, or an overly full stomach will impact pace, comfort level and endurance. Find the right amount and type of food to best suit the body, whether a banana on the morning of competition, or a bagel with peanut butter. 

Tap into Developmental Stage: Each developmental milestone is different. For example, during the school-age years, kids are interested in learning new skills. Teaching them how to cook and the basics of nutrition is not only developmentally appropriate, it allows a natural way to explore food and learn. During the teen years, the mind is more capable of understanding complex nutrition topics, like how the body uses food during exercise, and explaining these topics will help to build ownership and responsibility with caring for nutritional needs. Remember, though, teens are also risk-takers and love to experiment with new things (even unproductive dieting!), so keep the conversation about healthy nutrition going. 

Set the Water Rules: During competition weekends, set a “no junk food” policy (no candy, no chips, etc). This can be a team or family rule and sets the tone and manner of competition. Consider a training diet rule as well, such as “indulgences on the weekends only.” 

Stick with a Plan: Eating tends to fall apart when there is no plan. When swimmers come to a meet without any snacks, they go to the concession stand. When they don’t have water, they go to the vending machine. When pre-competition meals aren’t planned, swimmers may not get a good balance of everything they need. While it may seem hard to get a plan going, the reality is a plan makes everything easier. 

Jill Castle, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and child nutrition expert. She is the co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School (April 22, 2013), and creator of Just The Right Byte, a child and family nutrition blog. She lives with her husband and four children (two swimmers!) in New Canaan, CT. Have questions? Contact Jill at Jill@JillCastle.com.  

Top 5 Recovery Snacks for Swimmers

Read the Full Article Here

The above link is to a great article to help our swimmers choose the proper recovery snacks for them.  I summarized it below:

Do the words "I'm starving!!!!!"  "What's for dinner???" ring a bell to you?

We all have famished swimmers who act as though it's been days, rather than hours, since the last time they ate.  Here are some GREAT recovery snacks for them if dinner is too far away for them to last...

1)  Almond or peanut butter and fruit jam sandwich on whole grain bread.

2)  Vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt with low-fat granola cereal and berries.

3)  A cup of instant oatmeal with low-fat milk.

4)  Pita bread pocket stuffed with Albacore or light chunk tuna.   

5)  Whole wheat mini-bagel with sliced turkey, cheddar cheese and sliced apple. 

I will add a few suggestions of my own, if you don't have the ABOVE foods on hand:

Any fruits, veggies, and lots of fluids :) Chocolate milk is great I hear!