Immersed in Water yet Thirsty

marathon swim fuelI’m trying to figure out hydration and fuel for swimming practice. USA Swimming posted about the importance of hydrating an average of every 20 mins; water for 1st hour & after workout, and 2nd hour electrolyte drink with “6-8% carbohydrate by weight to provide the perfect balance.” If you’re in a private pool, then a bottle with your name is safe and convenient. In open water (Marathon swimming in Olympics), you get these personal aid sticks that give you the fuel bottle mid-stroke.

But for middle-class adults, with public pool memberships, pushing yards in their single or shared lane, there’s no ushers, no secure spot for your fuel bottle & if you walk over to the water fountain you’ll lose your lane. So, then you can get creative…

I learned through our 2012 cycling adventure and 2013 marathon adventure, that with fuel and water, I can push myself for miles and hours before exhaustion sets in. But without fuel and water, the energy breakdown makes me weak and irritated.  If I don’t have a refuelling plan, I’d rather not get started, then be left stranded. I know some marathoners that started training themselves to function with less water, but I can only push limits when I’m at a confident level in that discipline.

Gel packs in swimsuitsWith Sprint Distance (.5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run) and running race training, I mastered my hydration and fuel volume & timing: 20oz ZipFizz in a Gatorade pre-race which would last me until the start of the Sprint run, or mile 10 of a running race; where water/fuel aid stations kick in.

This year I raced Olympic Triathlons (almost 1 mile swim, 25 mi bike, 6 mi run) where 3 miles into the bike I’d be dehydrated. I’d drink my pre-race 20oz mix like usual, but by time my Olympic swim was done, I’d have peed it all out already! Bike was used drinking water to recover, and 2 miles into run, I had to pee again! I’m reading that I may need to balance the water intake with sodium to retain, although my usual pre-race meal is soy sauce soaked sushi.  I clearly use the sodium up faster in a longer swim so I need more. More importantly I need to focus on which combinations I’m using in my practice regularly to keep me fast and strong for the bike after.

As I’m not a great swimmer (slow/inefficient) I get thirsty after just 10 laps, so I bring a water bottle to the pool. It’s a public pool so I hate having to supervise it during the swim. (Perhaps paranoid but it’s abandoned for laps, who knows.) Then for longer swim workouts in open water, I still have the same situation and no ledge.

8-21-12-Diana-Nyad_full_600No luxury of a water butler  like Nyad Butler… before I can get ahead of myself with goals like Superfrog Half Ironman, or potential 5 year Anniversary 8-stage Triathlon SOS… I need to determine what to fuel with &  how often to keep me fierce instead of peeing all day while also dehydrated.

1) This year I met Selwyn Jellie, one of Australia’s known long distance swimmers, in LA Tri Club, who:

  • 3 Attempts English Channel Double Crossing 64k, Dover UK 2009
  • Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 28.5 miles, New York, NY USA 2008
  • English Channel Solo Crossing 32K, Dover UK 2006
  • English Channel Relay Crossing, Dover UK 2006
  • Rottnest Channel Swim 19.2k Perth, Western Australia, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (2x), 2009, 2010

He started swimming in his 40s and actually couldn’t swim without getting seasick! He developed a drink that provides protein, electrolytes and energy called E3. For under 1hr workouts will be water, then I’ll use this until I reach a mile, then up to 1.5 mi.

2) How to hydrate then becomes the 2nd concern, since energy wasted on rehydrating pauses are, well, time wasted. Of course the following idea is just to train with, and not for use in racing.  I’m interested in this Camelbak Hydration Fanny Pak to train for running, and will try it for swimming around my lower back instead but with the straw around my goggles for 30+ lap workouts.

Any tips or advice would be appreciated!

Update: Today with just ZipFizz I was able to bike 2 miles, run 4 miles then I was depleted. Ate packet of GU CHOMPS, ran 2 more miles without water. Then drank 10oz water, took piece of gum, then swam 25 laps in the pool without getting thirsty.  I only had to pee after I got out of the pool.

Hoping chewing gum doesn’t take some of my energy away for longer swims; the gum did help avoid getting dry mouth though.



One thought on “Immersed in Water yet Thirsty

  1. I actually rarely have water/liquid when I swim. Only when I have come from another workout like if I biked to the pool. This weekend I used some water from my bike and a PowerBar Performance Energy Blend(banana strawberry) when i swam 8k . Also I think really no one will bother your bottle and food, never seen anyone mess with stuff like that. BTW did you get the E3? If so how do you like it. I don’t see where to get it outside Australia.. seems worth a try though.

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