Feeding And Hydrating In The Open Water

Feeding And Hydrating In The Open Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

In the World Open Water Swimming Association coaching certification program, coaches and athletes are introduced the concepts of feeding and hydration in the open water swimming world, whether it is during a solo swim or a competitive race.

We divide the concepts into bite-sized segments in what they call the 6 T’s of Open Water Feeding,” said Steven Munatones. “Tools + Techniques + Timing + Tactics + Turf + Taste.

The Tools includes the feeding instrument (feeding stick, hand-to-hand, rope-attached cup, etc.), the marine vessel (boat, RIB, kayak, or paddle board), position (feeding pontoon, pier or jetty) and feeding vessel (cup, gel pack, water bottle, tow float).

The Technique includes how to position your body, how to approach the marine vessel, and how to grab and return the feeding vessel using the following four basic steps: Step 1: Seek and Spot + Step 2: Reach and Roll + Step 3: Gulp and Go + Step 4: Toss and Turn.

The Timing includes the amount of time between feedings, the amount of time of the feedings (and its impact in turbulent or tidal conditions), and the amount of time since the start and from the estimated finish.

The Tactics includes when to feed depending on whether the swim is a competitive race, a relay or there are currents, chop or waves involved in a solo swim.

The Turf includes the water conditions in terms of waves, swells, chop, temperature and marine life.

The Taste includes how you feel (warm, cold, physically stressed or fatigued, frustrated, injured or discomforted by jellyfish stings) and what you need during their swim (more hydration, more carbohydrates, a boost through their favorite food or medication).

We believe there is a delicate balance between what swimmers need physically and what soothes them psychologically. So, for example, while many athletes only use scientifically balanced gel packs, after hours of sucking down gel packs and other nutritionally formulated electrolyte drinks, sometimes the athlete is best served by a simple piece of chocolate, their favorite cookie, Coca-Cola, plain pasta, jelly babies, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich wedge or hot chocolate with whipped cream. Because open water swimming is such a mental game, a psychologically driven athletic endeavor, these commonly available foods and drinks can satisfy athletes in ways that a packaged gel pack cannot.

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