Training for the open water swim requires many, many hours in the pool. And those hours might as well be optimal performance hours, right? Here's something that just might help you in the pool.
A study conducted at St. Cloud University compared the effects of energy gels and water with water alone on the performance of competitive swimmers in a hard workout. Twelve swimmers received the gel packets and completed a difficult college level swim workout. Each swimmer did the workout twice - once with gels and once without on seperate days.
The results noted that swimmers' times slowed down significantly more over the course of the workout when they received only water during their day. Every timed 100-yard sprint was significantly faster in the gel trial than in the water-only trial. And in the gel trial, swimmers maintained their performance through 20 sprints, while the water only swimmers slowed down after just the fourth sprint.
Based on these results, it is beneficial to slurp down one packet of energy gel right before you start your swim workout. (They also recommend an additional gel every 30 minutes during the workout). This provides a signal to your brain that there is extra energy available for your muscles and allows you to perform at a higher level. And don't forget to keep your bottle of water at the edge of the pool to stay hydrated, too.
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