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Energy and Body Systems Used In Swimming and Why Nutrition is Important

It is no secret that swimming is an incredibly high-performance sport. Every time you swim, you are engaging literally, just about every single muscle in your body. Swimming also takes a very high amount of energy for this reason, so without a doubt you have to fuel your body properly through food in order to become a better swimmer.

First, let’s talk about the way that the cells in our bodies work. The cells in our body work and function by creating something called ATP [Adenosine Tri-Phosphate]. ATP is commonly referred to as “energy” for our body. The total human body content of ATP is only about 50 grams, which must be constantly recycled every day. The ultimate source of energy for constructing ATP is food; ATP is simply the carrier and regulation-storage unit of energy. The average daily intake of 2,500 food calories translates into a turnover of a whopping 180 kg. So, simply put, our bodies work on ATP, and in order to construct that ATP, we need food.

Next, we look at why exactly swimming requires so much energy. To do that, we have to break down some muscular and energy systems. For the muscular system, all of the muscle groups in your body all work as one to make one functioning system, the muscles work together to propel your body through the water. For example, as you roll your arms over, you are using the deltoid muscle in your shoulder, and then as you continue the stroke as it enters the water, you have to stretch your stroke, using the latissimus dorsi and the pec major. Then as you are pulling yourself through the water, you dip your forearm, then pull the water, which uses the bicep muscles. As you roll yourself over to do another stroke, you are using your core muscles. As you are doing all these motions you are continuously pumping your legs, making sure you are kicking from the hips, putting a large amount of pressure on the gluteus and the quadriceps.

“Energy Systems Swimming the 400 metres freestyles in an extremely enduring event. One which is feared greatly by the swimming community because of it’s difficulty. The aim of the event is to break it down into 100’s. The swimmer strives to go out the first 100 at pubs + 2-3 (your best 100 time + 2-3 seconds) then holding the next 200 metres at around pb+6 before maxing out the last 100, giving all you got left and bringing the race home. At the beginning of the race you use your ATP System, using short, fast bursts of energy, before your anaerobic or ATP PC system kicks in. This is between the 1 minute’s stage of the race until about the 3-minute 30 mark. After that for the final parts of the race you would use your aerobic energy system. An average 400m freestyle swim at my age would sit around the 4 minutes 30 mark, sitting it in the Anaerobic zone for the majority of the race.” -from

Swimming would be virtually impossible without fuel, aka food for our bodies. Without proper nutrition, becoming a better swimmer and improving will be very hard, if not impossible. Without a proper diet, you and your muscles will reach fatigue, making you much more prone to injuries.

In conclusion, swimming incorporates nearly every single muscle in your body. Being a high impact sport, you use all the muscle and energy systems in your body, which all run on ATP, and proper nutrition is required to make ATP.

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