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Swimming Workout Tips for Hot Weather

Swimmers - Sip, Shade, Snack, and Sleep

School's out, the temperature is rising, and, at least for those in the more northern areas, outdoor pools are open for business. Summer often means a change to workout schedules, with more being done in the morning hours, and much of that being done outside. While workouts include a warm-up and a cool-down, the cool-down in summer does not always do enough to keep you from having some heat related slow-downs to performance. Keep the 4 "S's" in mind to make outdoor workouts more successful year round, but pay particular attention during the hot summer.

It is vital to your performance, whether in a practice or a meet, to be fully hydrated. The increased heat and humidity of summer can lead to increased sweating, resulting in more water loss. To compensate, you should increase your fluid intake daily, keep a water bottle by your lane during workouts, and sip water or a sports drink continuously during a meet.

Sometimes, when you are hot, you just don't feel like eating. But if you are working out, and plan to keep on doing so, you need food! If you don't take in enough, you will feel tired and out of energy; your ability to complete workouts at the correct effort level will suffer. You might find that eating small snacks throughout the day is easier than three main meals. You might like to add some frozen bananas, frozen juice cubes, cold (refrigerated) fruits and vegetables, and other items that will both supply fuel and help cool your body.

That big burning globe in the sky can do serious damage to your skin. It also raises your body temperature, leading to an increase in water loss and calories burned. While it might be impractical to strap an umbrella on your back while you swim laps, you can apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, using it as directed on the package. It should block both UVA and UVB rays, or at least diminish their effects on your skin. You may need to apply it more often than directed because you will be in the water so often. Look for a "sport" brand that is sweat and water resistant. Don't forget to protect your eyes by using shaded or mirrored goggles - check the label for UVA and UVB ratings. Working out early in the day or late in the evening also helps you avoid the sun's most potent rays.

The extra work your body is performing to compensate for the heat means it (and you) need to get adequate sleep. Everyone seems to need differing amounts, but athletes should try and get at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day. This can be difficult to fit in a busy schedule. While it doesn't always have top be sleep - even relaxing is good for recovery - sleep seems to be better. Some ways to make it easier are to take naps and set your goals to include a daily schedule of going to bed and getting up. Look at it as being just as important as getting to practice on time, staying hydrated, keeping up your food intake, and protecting yourself from the sun. The rest will help your muscles rebuild by using the fluid and fuels you have remembered to take in during the day. When you have enough sleep, you will find your mind and body can perform much better.

Take care of yourself this summer. Stay cool, and remember to sip, snack, shade, and sleep.

Swim On!

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