Fuelling Early Morning Swims Like A Champ

Ah the merry twinkle of the 5am alarm. The splash of the water as you dive in half asleep, and the 4pm yawns that let you know you got up way too early. Yep, its the sound of the early morning swim sessions.

As a student athlete, I have to do quite a bit of juggling to fit a heavy weekly training schedule around work, lectures and student life. But I am not unique; so many of us age group athletes have to perform the same balancing act. Whether it be the full time job, a family of five or living in more challenging locations, it’s not only a balance of three sports – it’s a balance of life too!

Any multi-sport athlete will know that training is hungry work. Hence the statutory weekend cake rides, the rest day food cupboard rampage and the seemingly bottomless pit which is your stomach. So, it may be no surprise to you that I ask: “but what shall I eat before early swimming?!”

I asked around the Team Bath Performance Triathletes to see how they fuel their early swims.

“To breakfast or not to breakfast, that is the question?”

Full-time athlete, coach and elite triathlete, Brian Glynn: “Nothing for me but a coffee. If it’s slightly later at 7am, then it has to be porridge.”

Elite triathlete Elle Twentyman: “If it’s a hard set then an energy drink on pool side, but nothing before.”

Elite triathlete Alex Chandler: “Well I want to get up as late as physically possible, so nothing for me. If I am starving it has to be a handful of biscuits!”

South-African rising star, Sarah-Jane Walker: “I don’t really eat that much in the morning and it depends on how I’m feeling, if I’m still full from dinner I’ll have just a banana and if I’m a little hungry I’ll have a slice of toast with butter on it with honey.”

Poissey triathlete Florine Betts:To be honest I’ve taken to not really eating at all, but I do tend to feel crap in the water when I do that so the only thing I’ve managed to eat that early so far is a cocoa and orange Nakd bar. I’ve made some banana date and nut loaf to try this week though so I’ll see how that goes!”

Eilidha Prise, former junior world number one pentathlete: “I don’t eat before swimming in the morning. Occasionally I’ll have an espresso but that’s it.”

Age group half Ironman, Alice Rogers: “Normally I just grab a banana because I’m super rushed! But maybe if it’s a later start I might have a bit of Soreen.”

Me: I keep it quite simple. It’s a slice of toast loaded with peanut butter and a statutory cup of Truestart coffee before.

So, it seem there is a mix of feelings. Some give the early morning breckie a miss, others go full-hog with the biscuit draw! So I guess the answer is a lot of trial and error. A balance of what your stomach can handle at the ungodly hour, combined with what you will need to fuel you through the set. My advice would be try out different opinions and see what works for you. Be it half a pack of biscuits, breakfast muffins, toast or simply yesterday’s dinner, try it out. Do what works for you, and don’t be afraid to go a bit ‘off piste’.


Jemima Cooper

Written by Jemima Cooper

Jemima is an Age Group triathlete, Pilates instructor and psychology undergraduate student at the University of Bath. After 16 years of classical ballet training, Jemima took a completely new direction when she went off to university in 2017, where she began training and competing in triathlon. Jemima is a true lover of endurance sport and she is always in search of a new challenge. She has big dreams and aspirations to become a professional athlete and is ready to work hard to achieve this.