Preparation & Training
Port to Pub’s training, nutrition, and physiotherapy advisors can help you achieve your very best.
Ceinwen Roberts, Port to Pub Founder; Champion Open Water Swimmer; Coach, Positive Swim Squad
Claire Ricciardo, APD, Sports Dietitian
Prepare and Prosper – How to Enjoy Your Port to Pub Crossing
Participating in a distance swimming event like the Port to Pub can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences you’ll ever have, but in order to ensure you have the best possible day out it’s important that you properly prepare yourself and your team around you.
Some things are obvious like goggles, bathers, a boat and a skipper, but there are lots of other things that you might not have considered in your excitement to get ready for race day. Below is a list of things to consider that could make or break your day.
1 – It’s a LONG day! Whether you’re swimming solo or in a team of 6, chances are you’ll be up and active very early on race day and that means you need to work out how much food you and your entire support team are going to need for upwards of 6-8 hours. Swimmers should have all their refuelling requirements sorted the day before, labelled and explained to their support crew so there is no confusion and you should also consider that your crossing may take a little longer that you’d planned if conditions are rough. Better to have provisions left over than run out!! There’s no Uber Eats on the high seas…..yet!
2 – Start logistics. To ensure that everyone on your team (swimmers, skippers, paddlers, support crew) knows where and when they need to be on race day, hold a team meeting and discuss logistics. Where is the boat launching and at what time? Have you arranged for the dry clothes, towels, food etc of the swimmer heading off the beach to be on the boat so they have something to change into? What time and where will the paddler meet the swimmer before the race? Have you discussed which side of the start channel the paddler, and then the boat, will meet up with the swimmer going off the beach? What will the paddler be wearing? Is the paddler familiar with the swimmer’s stroke so they can identify them? What is the name of the boat and what does it look like – any distinguishing features? When will you be attempting your first changeover or feed?
3 – Changeovers. Team swimmers may need to get in and out of the boat upwards of 15 – 20 times depending on your chosen swim interval time, how many swimmers are in your team and how long it takes you to complete the crossing. Before you settle on your swim interval (the amount of time each swimmer will spend in the water each turn), work out how long you think your crossing might take and then work out how many times that will mean you have to get in and out of the boat and whether or not you will have enough time to dry off, get warm, refuel and then get ready to get back in again! Have you considered a tow rope to pull the swimmers back in to the boat? This can save a lot of energy and time on the changeovers. Practise your changeover process before race day if possible.
4 – Sunscreen. Refer to point 1!! It’s a long day and that means, hopefully, a long day in blazing sunshine. Swimmers should apply a full layer of sunscreen BEFORE they leave the house on race morning covering their entire body and then reapply as frequently as possible. Solo swimmers should apply at least two layers of sunscreen / zinc and consider putting sunscreen on the soles of their feet! If your boat doesn’t have shade, hats are a must, or you could suffer the effects of heatstroke. Don’t forget sunglasses either as you’ll be leaving the house in the dark and won’t think to need them.
5 – Staying warm. We’ll be ordering perfect conditions for race day but it’s still possible to get very cold even on a 40-degree day so make sure you and your team are properly prepared. Team swimmers and solos will need to look at different measures to stave off the cold with solo swimmers relying on proper refuelling, warm water and short rest stops to keep moving, while team swimmers will need to ensure they dry off and wrap up between stints. Even if you have never suffered from the cold you should consider the following items to avoid developing hypothermia:
Sports chamois to dry off (duo and team swimmers)
Several towels and/or blankets to wrap yourself in between stints
Thermoses of hot water – dilute to warm before drinking
Beanies, ugg boots, warm jackets and thermals/ fleece pants
Do you and your support crew know what to do if one of your members is showing the signs of hypothermia? Familiarise yourself with the information in the Port to Pub Handbook before race day.
6 – Lotions, potions and magic elixirs! You may never have suffered from sea-sickness before but have you ever been on an idling boat for 8 hours before? Even salty sea dogs have got sick during a crossing so it’s always wise to consider taking some sea-sickness tablets BEFORE you start your day. If you’re also planning on taking antihistamines (for stingers), anti-inflamms and/or painkillers or any other medication make sure you try your race day combination before race day so you don’t get any nasty surprises when they all hit your stomach at once. Best not to try anything for the first time on race day!
7 – Celebrations. When you get to Rotto and you’re looking to celebrate your amazing achievement, the last thing you want to be doing is wandering about trying to find your boat and support crew. Make sure you’ve arranged a meeting spot for your swimmer/s, paddler/s, boat etc. Having a shower and some food is a really good idea before you start your celebrations proper or you might find you curl up under a tree and have a snooze with the quokkas and miss all the partying….that may still happen but at least you will have tried to avoid it!
Remember the adage that Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance and make your Port to Pub Crossing a day to remember.
Elena Nesci is Principle Coach at eSWIM and has trained hundreds of swimmers to successful sol, duo and team crossings to Rottnest. She has completed solo, duo and team crossings to Rottnest.
Nutrition for Port to Pub Athletes
Port to Pub Swim Nutrition Preparation
Claire Ricciardo. APD, Sports Dietitian.
Hello Swimmers! I hope your training for the Port to Pub is on track. I am an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and have been a Sports Dietitian for almost 20 years, I am currently lecturing in Exercise Nutrition at ECU and I am a fellow swimmer. I have put together some general information for distance swimmers. If you feel you need more personalised advice, seek the assistance of a sports dietitian.
First – Get your Base Nutrition Right.
You can’t build on a weak foundation. For training nutrition, and competition nutrition to be effective, you need to make sure your base diet is full of variety, that you are consuming enough overall energy (kilojoules) and that you are meeting your requirements for both macro and micro nutrients.
Are you: –
- Eating regularly, around every 3 hours?
- Eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks/day?
- Including 3 food groups per main meal? Your main meals (lunch and dinner) Should include ½ a plate of vegetables / salad, ¼ plate of protein foods and ¼ plate of carbohydrate foods.
- Eating a variety of foods daily (20+ different foods a day)?
- Eating at least 5-6 serves of vegetables, 2 serves of fruit, 2-3 serves of lean protein, 2-3 serves of dairy and alternatives and 6 serves of wholegrain breads and cereals?
- Hydrated and waking with clear to straw coloured urine?
Under fueling can have dire consequences. Signs of under fuelling can include: –
- Persistent fatigue
- Low mood / irritability
- More frequent illness and / or injuries
- Loss of appetite OR always feeling hungry
- Difficulty with motivation for training
- Unintentional weight loss (but not always)
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Poor performance or failure to adapt to training
- New or persistent gut discomfort
Seek the assistance of a sports dietitian if you are experiencing any of these.
As your training increases (both in intensity and duration), so too does the amount of fuel your body burns. Make sure you start your training sessions fuelled up to maximise the effectiveness of the training session. Your body uses mostly muscle glycogen (or carbohydrates) when you are exercising. You don’t want to eat anything high in fat or fibre too close to training as it can sit heavy in your stomach. This often means you need to plan ahead! If you have a few hours before training, good high carbohydrate food choices are: –
- Fruit toast / jam on toast
- Fruit / fresh or tinned with yoghurt
- Breakfast cereal
- Pasta / noodle / rice dishes
- Sandwich or roll
If you don’t have long before you swim, top up fuel stores using foods that contain quickly absorbed carbohydrates such as: –
- Sports drinks / gels / lollies
- Yoghurt pouches
- Flavoured milk
- Dried fruit / small fresh fruit
After training you want to consume foods that contain both protein (to prevent muscle breakdown and support growth) and carbohydrates (to replace the fuel you have just used up). You have a small window (30 minutes) to get these foods in to maximize recovery. This is particularly important if your next session is within 24 hours.
- Flavoured milk / milkshake / smoothie / Sustagen sport
- Yoghurt and fruit
- Breakfast cereal / muesli with fruit and yoghurt
- Dinner / Lunch with ¼ plate carbohydrate food (pasta, rice, potato, noodles), ¼ plate protein foods (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, beans) and ½ plate vegetables.
- Chicken and cheese salad sandwich / roll
- Tuna, beans and rice
- Nut bar with piece of fruit
- Rice cream with tinned fruit
- Baked beans on toast
You also need to rehydrate properly. Swimmers are often guilty of not consuming enough fluids during training due to the environment in which you train. This makes rehydration even more important. You do not need fancy fluids to rehydrate properly, water alone is enough when consumed with your recovery foods.
During Training Nutrition.
Once you start training for longer than 60 minutes, to maintain intensity you will need to provide your body with fuel. This is also a good opportunity to practice race day nutrition because you NEVER DO ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY! You need to train your gut, just as you train your body. The more you practice your nutrition the more benefit you will get from it, and the less chance there is for an upset stomach or flagging.
- You will need to hydrate – aim for 500-750mls / hour. This will be different for everyone.
- You will need to fuel – aim for between 30-60g / hour. Your needs will be individual, and you should start small to allow your gut to adapt.
Aim to consume something at intervals over the hour (15, 20, 30 minutes) to figure out what works best for you. Small feeds often or larger feeds less often.
Possible options: –
- Sports drink (carbohydrate containing). 500mls will have around 30g of carbohydrate in it
- 1 gel has around 30g of carbohydrate in it.
- Energy bars
- Yoghurt / custard squeezy
- Flat coke
- Warm milo (thermos put into sauce squeeze bottles)
- Cream rice
- Hot miso / chicken soup
- Up & go / milo tetra / flavoured milk
Race Day Nutrition.
Before the race you might want to consider carbohydrate loading. This should not be done for the first time before race day so make sure you practice what you plan to do. On the morning of the swim, do whatever you have been doing for training. Make sure you are hydrated.
Tips for the race: –
- Keep hot items in a thermos and have it transferred to a squeezy bottle for easy consumption.
- Consider organising your feeds in hourly packs
- Pack extra of everything to give you options in case something is not working.
- Start your race nutrition plan early and keep on top of it.