Coffee can enhance a person’s day in many ways, yet most people probably don’t think much about the beverage’s sports-enhancing capabilities.
However, the positive effect of caffeine on athletes has long captured the imaginations of scholars and researchers. In fact, caffeine’s effect on swimmers alone has been studied since the 1970s.
About 20 years ago, researchers showed that a moderate dose of caffeine could provide energy for endurance freestyle swimming. Swimmers who ingested caffeine 2.5 hours before their 1,500-meter swims clocked times that were an average of 23 seconds faster.
This research was later expanded to examine the effects of caffeine on high-intensity performance. In other words, the research looked at the effect of caffeine on sprint swimmers instead of distance swimmers. One again, many researchers did find cause to believe that caffeine could be performance enhancing.
Further, researchers found that caffeine impacted athletes more than non-athletes. The researchers didn’t definitively determine what led to this divergence, but they theorized that it could be a result of athletes’ higher willingness to push through fatigue and their lower base-level consumption of caffeine.
A trio of Australian researchers recently set out to look at the combination of these effects by examining the effects of caffeine on elite swimmers in repeated freestyle sprints.
Sure enough, they found that elite swimmers who ingested caffeine had significantly enhanced times. Interestingly, the benefits of caffeine on the swimmers became more and more apparent after each sprint trial. By the 3rd and 4th sprint trial, the caffeinated swimmers saw their mean times improve by 1.3%.
Despite this improvement, the swimmers did not register that they were working harder. In other words, coffee might help you work harder without you even realizing it.
It’s easy enough to implement this into a daily lifestyle if you haven’t already. A regular 16-ounce coffee from a place like Panera or Starbucks will be about 300 mg of caffeine. Get a great night of sleep, then pair some coffee with some granola for breakfast and you’re already off to a great start for your day!
What do you think about drinking coffee before swimming? I’d love yo hear your thoughts or experiences – sound off in the comments or tweet me at @ZoneSwimwear!