USA Swimming News

Monday, March 25, 2019

Nutrition Planning for a Multi-Day Swim Meet on the Road

Nutrition Planning for a Multi-Day Swim Meet on the Road

The excitement for this week’s championship meet is building! Two different travel plans are possible:

  1. The coaches are very excited to travel as a team and have lined up team meals to eat as a group. Meals will be provided, but snacks at the hotel and pool are the responsibility of the swimmer and/or parent. Below are a few considerations when planning your sport nutrition plan fora weekend of fast swimming.
  2. The swimmers and parents are responsible for their own meals (even though the team or groups of swimmers may choose to eat together). Meal planning and choices as well as snacks are the responsibility of the swimmer and/or parent.

Challenges in Preparing for a Swim Meet on the Road

  • Packing for numerous meals/snacks over the course of a few days is challenging in itself.
  • Staying in a hotel limits accessibility to familiar foods preferred on competition day.
  • Multi-day meets with long morning/evening or prelims/finals sessions can interfere with normally schedule meal times.
  • When the location of a swim meet is significantly far from home, the time away can feel like a vacation. Although having fun is a must, performance and fast swims are the main priority!

Nutrition Tips When Preparing for your Trip

  • Review your travel plans and schedule. Plan to either pack foods, or make a shopping list for the

    grocery store when you arrive.

  • Food Storage. Consider bringing or buying a small/cooler that you can store cold items, especially if a refrigerator is not included in your room. Also, a small knife (depending on the athlete’s age) for cutting fruit can come in handy.
  • Meet Snacks. Purchase and pack enough competition days snacks for the weekend. Go with familiar foods, instead of trying to track down something last minute or at the swim meet (snack bar food choices leave much to be desired!) Use the below chart as a shopping list to get you started:

Performance Based Snacks for the Pool


  • ¨Organic Instant Oatmeal
  • ¨Low Fat Granola

    Bagels/Whole Grain Bread/Spreads

  • ¨Whole Grain Bagel/Thins
  • ¨Natural Peanut/Almond Butter
  • ¨Fruit Spread


  • ¨Bananas
  • ¨Apples
  • ¨Seasonal Fruit

Beverages (buy only as much as can be stored)

  • ¨Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
  • ¨Sport Drink
  • ¨Bottled water (for hotel and meet)


  • ¨Granola Bars (e.g. KIND, Kashi, Lara, Nature Valley) – Nut free
  • ¨Non-fat Yogurt (Greek)
  • ¨Pretzels or Crackers
  • ¨Low-Fat Beef/Turkey Jerk
  • ¨Roasted nuts/Trail Mix



  • Hotel Snacks. When killing time in the hotel, it’s easy to snack on unhealthy foods out of boredom. Consider purchasing/packing these kinds of snacks to avoid this from happening:
  • Fresh cut vegetables w/ hummus
  • Whole Grain cereal to snack on
  • Instant Oatmeal packets
  • Bottled Waters
  • Loaf of bread w/ deli meat
  • Roasted Nuts/Trail mix

  • Download these printable travel pack grocery lists of perishable and non-perishable foods, created by the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s TrueSport and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ (UCCS) Food Literacy Program, The Flying Carrot, that will help fuel your athletes for their competitions. 

During Travel:

  • Maintain optimal hydration by drinking small amounts of fluid regularly. Choose water or milk. Add electrolytes to help ensure optimal absorption of water (do not limit fluid intake to prevent using the restroom!)
  • Bring entertainment to prevent eating from boredom,
  • Plan meal/snack times to avoid continuous eating
  • Walk around and/or stretch

At your Destination:

  • Aim to eat as similarly as possible as you do at home – bring snacks for between meals, eat on new time zone
  • Choose sensibly at buffets
  • Alter meal and snack size according to changes in training volume

Eating Out

  • Choose restaurants that allow substitutions (like vegetables and fruit) when menu items are not a good fit for your athlete’s nutritional needs
  • Tailor your meals at restaurants: specify bake, broil, grill, roast, and “on the side.”

Fast Food Ideas

Familiarize yourself with different types of restaurants that offer high-performance food options and nutrient information.

  • Mexican: burrito or soft tacos with grilled veggies, chicken, fish, or steak
  • Fast food: grilled chicken sandwich, hamburger, veggie burger, or grilled chicken salad
  • Sandwich restaurant: chili and side salad or turkey sandwich
  • Bakery restaurant: veggie sandwich and low-fat garden vegetable soup or smoked turkey breast sandwich

Key Points

  • Planning and preparation are the keys to success when traveling. Download this planner to help you prepare. (link to the Multi-Day Swim Meet Nutrition Plan)
  • Jet lag and long flights can compromise performance. Stay on top of nutrition needs by keeping well-hydrated and eating properly.

Connect With Our Community

© Copyright 2023 USA Swimming. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy Terms & Conditions Personal Data Request Form