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Monday, August 10, 2009

My daughter is 13 and is a competitive swimmer

"My daughter is 13 and is a competitive swimmer, 5-6 sessions per week and well as partakes in triathlons, running etc, I would like advice on sports drink / supplements, which to get and which is suitable for someone of that age. how much and when to drink, ie she at times suffers from severe stitch in multisports and now doesn’t eat or drink within 3 hrs of racing, perhaps we need to look at the drinking side of it. She is flagging a bit these days, and I think just water may not be enough as some of the swim training sessions are quite intense."
Gary responds:
Adolescence is a critical time for the female athlete with the odds sadly stacked against them continuing training and competition for much longer.

Please read the articles here and here.

Research tells us that 50% or more of young female athletes are lacking in iron. My experience is this figure is on the low side and probably more liek 80% here in New Zealand. Iron deficiency results in flagging performances, loss of lean tone, increase in fatness, excessive sleep, negativity and proneness to infections. Of course, if iron is lacking then many other nutrients will be lacking, including zinc, chromium and selenium to name just a few. Iron needs a number of cofactors to be taken up and properly utilised, including B12, protein and vitamin C. These are often lacking in the adolescent diet.

The best next action, before taking any dietary and supplementation, is to get your daughter off to the doctor for a battery of blood tests. Once you have the results, send me a copy and I will help with analysing them from the perspective of achieving optimum health and fitness as opposed to merely using such tests to detect disease. If you can afford the expense (NZ$225), order a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and the results will guide you perfectly as to nutritional interventions to ensure good nutrition.

Which sports drink is best for your daughter?
First ensure whatever is chosen that it does not contain artificial colourings, sweeteners and acidifiers. Most of the pre-mixed sports drinks contain one or more of these. Stay away from these because they are not healthy - rotting teeth and gums for a start.

The drink I most recommend for her is Balance Ultimate Recovery Stack. This is a wonderful addition to a good athlete diet. Practice taking it daily prior and after training. She will find she can drink it within half an hour of training and, later, competition and immdiately following. This provides a balanced mix of the nutrients that an athlete needs for exercise and recovery. She can experiment with having a Super Smoothie daily and may find she can safely drink a basic Super Smoothie about two hours prior to races such as a multisports event. She can also have a Super Smoothie with breakfast.

New Zealand is a world champion at producing junior world champions and not much more than that.

Think of yourselves as being your daughter's Guardian Angels. Coaches seldom look beyond the end of the immediate season and, despite statements to the contrary, may not be working to her best longterm interests as a person and as an athlete. Swimming, like athletics and cycling, is notorious for burning out promising young talent. Your duaghter does not mature physically and emotionally until her mid to late 20's. Thrashing her in training and competition while so young achieves nothing for the longterm and is statistically weighted in favour of failure. She needs time to grow, to study and get good grades and she needs have time and energyto socialise. Look after her best interests to ensure she grows into well-rounded and healthy young woman. With regards to swimming, this means concentrating on developing perfect stroke, health and recovery. The endless km in the pool can happen later once she has the physical and emotional maturity to handle and thrive on the work.
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