Carbs for Kids: Why They’re Important for Energy & Endurance in the Pool


Carbohydrates are a vital source of energy for swimmers and athletes in general – and when it comes to kids, there’s no exception. Ever wondered why carbs play such a crucial role in supporting endurance and performance in the pool? Here’s why…

Primary energy source

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred and most efficient source of energy. When consumed, they are broken down into glucose, which is readily used by the muscles and the brain for fuel. For swimmers, having an adequate supply of glucose helps to sustain energy levels during prolonged physical activity in the water.

Glycogen storage

The body stores glucose in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver. During intense or prolonged exercise, such as swimming, these glycogen stores become a critical energy reserve.

“Hitting the wall” is a term used to describe the point during prolonged exercise when glycogen stores become significantly depleted. Having sufficient glycogen delays this point, allowing athletes to sustain their performance for a more extended period before experiencing fatigue.

So how do you make sure your child’s glycogen stores are sufficient prior to swimming? Carbs, of course! Consuming carbohydrates helps replenish glycogen stores, ensuring that young swimmers have a readily available energy source for their lessons, squad training or competitions.

Blood glucose regulation

Consuming complex carbohydrates rich in fibre, such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, can help regulate blood glucose levels, preventing hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). These foods digest slowly, releasing glucose gradually and preventing sudden spikes.

Choosing low glycaemic index (GI) options like sweet potatoes further contributes to steady blood sugar, as does combining carbohydrates with proteins and healthy fats. Stable blood glucose levels are essential for maintaining focus, coordination, and overall performance, which is crucial for swimmers.


Post-swim recovery is crucial as the body needs to replenish energy stores. Consuming carbohydrates after a swim session aids in restoring glycogen levels, providing a quick and accessible energy source for subsequent activities. Moreover, combining carbohydrates with protein in the post-exercise period enhances the recovery process. This combination supports not only glycogen replenishment but also muscle repair and growth. The carbohydrates play a role in refuelling energy, while the protein provides the necessary building blocks for repairing and strengthening muscles, ensuring a comprehensive recovery after the physical demands of swimming.


Many carbohydrate-rich foods, such as fruits and whole grains, also contribute to hydration due to their water content. Proper hydration is essential for swimmers to maintain performance and avoid dehydration, which can negatively impact energy levels and endurance.

Don’t skip the carbs!

Carbohydrates play a key role in providing the energy necessary for both short bursts and sustained effort during swimming. For optimal performance, kids who are swimming should include a variety of carbohydrate sources in their diet, especially around training sessions and competitions. If your child is serious about their swimming and is training hard, make sure they don’t skip the carbs.

Share this:
Aquastar Swim Schools