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Good eats, better meets

BY IAN MURPHY | OCTOBER 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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The poster man of swimming, Michael Phelps, eats in the area of 12,000 calories per day when he is training. But Phelps, along with other swimmers, including the Iowa men’s swimming team, do more than monitor calories when they eat.

“The days of swimmers just eating whatever they want, whenever they want because of the massive calorie burn are over,” said Iowa swimming head coach Marc Long. “I think we just need to be a little bit smarter about when we eat, the timing of eating, and of course what we eat.”

Just because the NCAA now allows universities to provide athletes an unlimited number of meals and snacks doesn’t mean the swimmers will get anything less than what will help them optimize their performance. 

Long said any time the team travels, the coaching staff runs the food by the registered dietitian on the strength and conditioning staff in order to make sure the athletes are getting the fuel they need to recover.

Nutrition is one of the key ingredients to recovery, Long said. And it appears his swimmers think so, too.

Junior Charles Holliday said he views recovery, and with that, nutrition, as an essential part of competing at his best.

“They say you're only as strong as your weakest link,” Holliday said. “If you’re training as much as we do and burning all the calories we do at practice, you need to be able to recuperate from that, or you won’t be able to gain the strength and the endurance we need.”

Holliday said he tries to eat one gram of protein for each pound he weighs on a daily basis, which can be a challenge at 190 pounds. He also tries to down four servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables daily.

He said the athletics facilities help by providing salads with fruit and nuts to help meet his goals. At home, Holliday eats carbs in the form of rice and pasta.

Holliday is on a pre-med track and wants to be a surgeon. He said his schoolwork helps make him more aware of what his body needs.

“I can know what’s going to improve my energy, what’s going to improve my muscle building,” he said.

Fellow junior Matt Boyd also tries to keep a healthy diet but said sometimes, it’s OK to have a small reward.

He tries to eat carbs before practice and then follow a practice with protein.

“If it’s a hard day at practice, you want to eat the basis of what you’re going to have regardless, like protein and stuff after,” Boyd said. “But if you really need it, you can throw some kind of snack that’s not as good for you.

“Every once in a while, you have to have some junk food.”

Long said healthy eating is stressed through the strength and conditioning department and said the Athletics Department has made a commitment to helping the athletes recover.

“Important to me is the wellness factor,” Long said.

He noted that athletes can go to extremes with what they eat, how they train, and when they sleep. When his swimmers graduate, Long said, he doesn’t expect many of them to swim as much as they do now, so he wants them to have a good handle on their well-being long after they are done swimming.

“We want to make sure they’re a well-balanced person when they leave here, in addition to eating for high performance,” Long said.

Follow @IanFromIowa on Twitter for news, udpates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s swimming team.


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