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11+ Best Supplements for Swimmers

11+ Best Supplements for Swimmers

Swimmers’ supplements can be difficult to choose due to the vast number of products available. Some supplements for swimmers may claim to have robust and effective ingredients for their overall health and well-being, while others underperform. Our article explores the best supplements for swimmers backed by research to aid you in making an informed choice.

3 Best Supplements Swimmers Should Have Before Swimming

Do you know what you should have if you are a swimmer? Here are three of the best and safest supplements for swimmers before the training sessions:

  1. Creatine
  2. Carbohydrates
  3. Beta-alanine

Let's shed light on each supplement.


Creatine is an organic compound found in muscle that serves as an energy source for short, intense activities like the 50-meter freestyle. It is the most popular supplement in general sports and is needed by every swimmer before their competition. Swimming requires a lot of power, so swimmers must push hard against the water to move forward. Creatine helps with this kind of intense, short bursts of exercise, so it's good for sprinters. But for long swims, it might not be as helpful.

A study from the International Society of Sports Nutritionals suggests this would be a safe and effective option. When combined with swimming and strength training, creatine swimming supplements can help swimmers develop muscular strength and accelerate recovery.

Creatine is one of the few supplements that need to be loaded. This means you will need to take 20 grams per day for five to seven days and then reduce to 5 grams per day after the loading phase.


Swimmers cannot do a swim workout without the use of carbs. They are small carbohydrates (carbs) stored in muscles and the liver as glycogen, serving as the primary fuel source, especially during exercise. According to Peterson (n.d.), in her study on the nutritional needs of competitive swimmers, swimmers can burn about 1,600 calories per hour. Carbs buffer and bolster the immune system and alleviate the gnawing hunger that haunts swimmers during training.

The Academy of Science and Diabetics explains swimmers in training should eat between 3,000 and 6,000 calories daily from food. The majority of calories should come from carbohydrates (2.3 to 3.6 grams of carbohydrates per pound body weight per day). However, when chronically high levels of blood sugars exist in the body over long periods of time, this leads to weight gain, terrible metabolic health, and increased heart disease.


This amino acid allows cells to produce carnosine, a muscle-buffering agent that limits the accumulation of hydrogen ions. Since hydrogen ions cause muscle fatigue, lower accumulation levels mean less muscular fatigue. Stellingwerff (2020) reviewed research and found beta-alanine supplementation benefits events between 30 seconds to 10 minutes by 2% to 3%, but may be less effective in well-trained athletes (0.2% to 1.3%).

Typical dosage recommendations range around 65 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (4 grams per day for a 150-pound athlete) for at least two to four weeks and up to 12 weeks. However, swimmers may experience side effects such as itching and intermittent tingling (paresthesia).



9 Best Supplements Swimmers Should Have During Swimming

Supplements will accompany the swimmers' daily nutrition. Some gaps cannot be met with a natural diet, and supplements can cover those gaps in nutrition.

  1. Beetroot
  2. Caffeine
  3. Vitamin B
  4. Vitamin D
  5. Fish oil
  6. Iron
  7. Magnesium
  8. Multi-Vitamin
  9. Protein

Read on to clarify the purpose of every supplement.


Swimmers seeking an edge in performance may benefit from beetroot supplementation. According to research, the root vegetable boasts high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nitrates.

There are some studies indicate that beetroot can:

  • Improve blood circulation
  • Boost stamina
  • Enhance intensity
  • Reduce recovery time

Studies by Murphy et al. (2012) suggest that beetroot can acutely improve running performance, potentially due to increased blood flow. Two further studies by Domínguez et al. (2017, 2018) further endorse these conclusions, suggesting that beetroot juice supplements for swimmers can boost endurance capacity, increase exercise intensity, and even reduce recovery time in athletes—all of which are desirable traits for any swimmer.

To maximize the nitric oxide-enhancing effect of beetroot we recommend taking concentrated beet juice or beet powder 30–60 minutes before exercise.


Caffeine may benefit swimmers looking for an energy boost mid-race or mid-training. A study by Lara et al. (2015) suggests that acute caffeine intake may improve sprint swimmers' performance. This finding is in line with coffee's well-known effect on sharpening mental alertness and delaying the sensation of fatigue during exercise.

Caffeine is only one of the many supplements accessible to swimmers; electrolyte drinks and energy gels are also well-liked options for individuals who need a quick energy source. If you consume your coffee 45 to 60 minutes before swimming, you will reap the benefits without causing any harm to your health. Before exercising, athletes should try consuming 3-6 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to 200–410 mg for a 150-pound athlete. You can use our caffeine calculator to determine your ideal amount!

Vitamin B

Like many athletes, swimmers must pay a tremendous amount of energy to compete and succeed at their own level. The B vitamins excel in this situation. According to Woolf & Manore (2006), B vitamins help break down carbohydrates and transport oxygen throughout the system, both of which are needed to produce fuel for exercise. Moving forward, Camfield et al. suggest that B vitamins convert food into energy and support growth and development. B vitamins also aid in stress management by helping to regulate cortisol levels in the body that, if too high, will use up glycogen stores, causing fatigue.

Deficiencies in B vitamins can manifest as low performance, fatigue, and muscle cramping, affecting a swimmer’s ability to train and compete. B vitamin supplements for swimmers can range based on biological sex, age, nutrient needs, and health status.

The table below shows recommended daily allowances (RDI) for the B vitamins for men and women below.

Type of vitamin B Women Men
B1 (thiamine) 1.1 mg 1.2 mg
B2 (riboflavin) 1.1 mg 1.3 mg
B3 (niacin) 14 mg 16 mg
B5 (pantothenic acid) 5 mg (RDI not established; adequate intake provided) 5 mg (AI)
B6 (pyridoxine) 1.3 mg 1.3 mg
B7 (biotin) 30 mcg (AI) 30 mcg (AI)
B9 (folate) 400 mcg 400 mcg
B12 (cobalamin) 2.4 mcg 2.4 mcg

Vitamin D

Indoor swimmers may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency due to limited sun exposure. Research by Shaw et al. (2014) emphasizes the importance of vitamin D supplements for swimmers, highlighting their role in bone health, energy production, immune system function, muscle function, and mood.

Moreover, studies by the National Institutes of Health (2024) suggest that vitamin D also helps convert food into energy, supports the immune system in fighting illness, and contributes to proper muscle function to prevent fatigue during workouts.

Swimmers may need to combine vitamin D-rich foods, sun exposure, and supplementation ideally >100 nmol/L to reach sufficient vitamin D levels.

Fish oil

For swimmers who struggle to consume the recommended 6 ounces of fish per week or dislike the taste, taking Omega-3 fish oil supplements can be an alternative option. Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which offer numerous advantages. Research by Tartibian et al. (2010) suggests that Omega-3 supplements for swimmers may improve pulmonary function during intense training periods.

In addition, a study by Bauer et al. (2014) found that Omega-3 supplementation can enhance cognitive function and brain activity in young adults. Thielecke and Blannin (2020) also highlight the importance of adequate Omega-3 intake for athletes, as it supports muscle recovery and reduces the risk of illness.

A valuable tip for swimmers is to seek an Omega-3 supplement with 250 – 500 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These are the Omega-3 fatty acids with the greatest positive health associations. It is advised to take between 250 and 500 mg of DHA daily to be healthy.

On top of that, the simplest solutions are found in formulas of STAAR LABS’ OMEGA | NATURAL DHA/EPA FISH OIL. These capsules are easy to swallow and have a pleasant taste.


Iron is a vital mineral that significantly contributes to athletic performance, particularly for swimmers. According to Hinton (2014), iron is essential for oxygen transfer from the lungs to the body's tissues, vital for energy metabolism and acid-base balance — crucial for athletic performance.

In addition, as Jáuregui-Lobera (2014) points out, the brain relies on oxygen transport facilitated by iron, and low iron levels can lead to poor concentration, irritability, and impaired focus. These cognitive effects can significantly impact swimmers' performance, as they require focus and mental clarity during races and training sessions. Therefore, iron supplements for swimmers can help prevent muscle damage and inflammation and ensure that they can train effectively and recover properly.

Athletes have considerably higher iron intake than non-athletes, requiring 1.3 to 1.7 times as much iron, and vegetarians 1.8 times more iron than meat eaters.


Magnesium helps with energy production, bone density, muscle function, and blood sugar control. According to Volpe (2015), magnesium is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions, including energy production, bone mineral density, muscle function, and blood glucose control.

As Cinar et al. (2006) have shown, magnesium is involved in muscle contraction and ATP production inside the muscle cells. Without sufficient magnesium levels, cramping can significantly impact a swimmer's performance.

To address these issues, it's recommended that swimmers should consider magnesium supplements and soak baths after exercising to help soothe the muscles and support recovery. This can assist swimmers in recovering effectively and preparing for their next training session or competition.


Vitamins and minerals are tiny nutrients our bodies need to perform various functions. Since our bodies do not produce these nutrients, we must get them from our food or multi-vitamin supplements.

The use of multi-vitamins with their extra doses of vitamin C helps to boost your resistance against common colds and other flu-like symptoms. Taking the right vitamins before a race can keep you in good health when it’s most important.

Research by Burke et al. (2014) highlights that daily multivitamin supplements for swimmers intake can help address potential deficiencies and protect immune cells from damage caused by free radicals produced during exercise. Moreover, studies suggest multivitamins improve muscle recovery after swim sessions and even reduce nighttime cramps, potentially enhancing overall training and performance.

The National Academy of Medicine in the U.S. (formerly the Institute of Medicine) creates dietary guidelines called Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamins and minerals. The DRIs are based on age, gender, and life stages, and cover over 40 nutrients.


Swimming is a physically demanding sport that requires significant strength. Proper nutrition ensures that swimmers get sufficient protein to maintain their strength. According to Burd et al. (2009), protein is important for endurance athletes because the body uses protein as fuel when carbohydrate sources run out. This increased protein intake promotes muscle growth and boosts endurance. Besides, protein supplements can be a convenient choice for a lighter option or as a post-training snack.

It is important to note that swimming supplements recommendations may vary depending on exercise intensity, duration, body weight, and other individual factors. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) recommends that endurance athletes consume between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. Splitting your protein intake into 4-5 portions evenly spaced throughout the day is recommended.



How to Choose the Right Supplements for Swimmers?

To be certain of a supplement's quality that optimizes a swimmer's performance, recovery, and overall health. Here are some practical tips to guide you:

Consult with a Professional: Before blending any supplement into your routine, talking to a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is a good idea. With effective advice, you can benefit most from the recommendations that fit your specific health needs, dietary restrictions, and training goals.

Quality and Purity: Always choose supplements from reputable brands known for high manufacturing standards, such as STAAR LABS, where the products are free from harmful contaminants and contain the ingredients in the amounts listed on the label.

Avoid Banned Substances: Supplements for swimming athletes must not contain banned substances. Otherwise, consuming prohibited ingredients could result in severe issues such as disqualification and reputation damage. Hence, it is recommended to check the ingredients list and consult reliable sources such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to avoid any potential risks.

All in all, proper nutrition, hydration, and rest are also equally significant for best performance in swimmers.

How to Choose the Right Supplements for Swimmers?


What Are Nutritional Requirements of a Swimmer?

Training must be done to improve athletic performance, and eating well is required to support optimal performance and progress in swimming, whether in open water or a pool.

A daily consumption of no more than 55 calories per kilogram per day, distributed as follows, is crucial for amateur swimmers:

  • Carbohydrates: 3 — 6 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram each day.
  • Protein: 1.5 – 1.7 grams per kilogram daily.
  • Healthy Fats: 1 — 2 grams per kilogram daily.

Please be aware that these recommendations may vary depending on the exercise intensity and length of the session. Our recommendations are not intended for competitive swimmers but rather for amateurs.

What Are Nutritional Requirements of a Swimmer?



These answers to the most common questions will be helpful for swimmers.

1. How can I know if a supplement actually works?

When a supplement is effective, you may notice changes in your performance or physical and mental health. It is also a great option to track any symptoms or alterations you observe over a journey of at least 30 days.

Not all supplements work the same way; some may give noticeable effects in a short time, while others need a longer period before the full benefits become apparent.

2. What supplements should swimmers take after swimming?

Having carbohydrates and protein after swimming can help swimmers and endurance athletes recover effectively and maintain performance:

  • Protein: This supplement helps enhance muscle protein synthesis, repair, and overall health. Endurance athletes may need 1.2 — 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. High-quality sources and possibly protein shakes can help meet these needs.
  • Amino Acids/Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): These are building blocks of protein, which are important for cognitive function and muscle repair. They are particularly useful for endurance athletes to support recovery after extensive exercise.

3. What is the best time for swimmers to take supplements?

You can take most supplements for swimmers at any time during the day. However, your body might absorb certain nutrients more effectively if you drink them alongside a meal with fat. Your body requires 13 vitamins — 9 of which dissolve in water and 4 in fat to operate optimally.

Peterson, B. (2024). Access date: 2024-06-04.

Stellingwerff, T. (2020). Access date: 2024-06-04.

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