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How nutrition helps to achieve optimum performance

Mark Foster  
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When the last Olympics were just a few months away, we were joined by one person who knows the importance of nutrition to achieve optimum performance is International swimmer Mark Foster. For the past decade he has dominated Freestyle and Butterfly sprint events and is one of the UK’s most consistent sportsmen, having won 5 World, 7 European and 2 Commonwealth Championship Gold medals. He has also represented Great Britain in four consecutive Olympic Games.




Tim wants to know: "What would you pinpoint as the greatest single factor in your phenomenal success? " 

Mark Foster said:


Talent and hard work.




Aiden wants to know: "What are your major goals over the next few years?" 

Mark Foster said:


Olympic games this summer, then the world championships in the USA, in December the European championships in Vienna. Then 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.




Jo wants to know: "What do you see as your best body feature?" 

Mark Foster said:


Strong shoulders for swimming, big hands and big feet!.




Josh wants to know: "Do you stay away from alcohol or allow yourself to divulge once in a while?" 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Josh - Once in a while, after a major championship, but whilst in training I drink Wellman High Performance. Which helps maintain my energy levels.




Emmski wants to know: Mark - you are so fit (in both senses of the word!) - how often do you train? ;-)  

Mark Foster said:


Hi Emmski - I train 6 days a week, 3 days down the gym; I swim every day and run on a track 2 times a week. It's a full time job.




Luke wants to know: When you were a child did you always want to be a swimmer? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Luke - No I wanted to be an Airline Pilot. But I do the butterfly!




Harry wants to know: Mark. Do you recommend that I can still take my daily vitamins whilst having a Wellman High Performance drink? Or are they not needed? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Harry - Take Wellman for general health and wellbeing and take Wellman High Performance to sustain energy release.




Bob wants to know: You spent some time in Florida with The Race Club; was it good to work with some f the world's best sprinters? And do you learn much from them? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Bob - I trained in Miami for 6 weeks and took a couple of training partners with me. Gary Hall-Junior who won the Olympics in Sydney joined me and did my workouts, I learnt a lot from Gary about technique.




Natasha wants to know: Although I work at the BBC I ask this question as a swim fan) Mark, James Parrack write in his April column in Swimming magazine about Neil Metcalfe missing out on the Barcelona Olympics in your event even though he DID the qualifying time and came second behind you. This was because Fibbens was pre-selected for winning a bronze at the 1991 Europeans. Don't you think there is an argument for your pre-selection after your medal win at 2003's Europeans this time round? PS: I really really hope you get to go to Athens and if you do - KICK ASS! Kind regards Tasha  

Mark Foster said:


Hi Natasha - The 2003 World Championship in swimming terms is the equivalent of the Olympic games and I think that being second in the World is a good case for being pre-selected.




Steve is asking: Who do you think will be the main challengers in Athens? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Steve - The Americans are always strong in particular Gary Hall-Junior, obviously Alexander Popov who won the World Championships last year and Peter Van-Den-Hogenband.




Graham wants to know: Since you had a shoulder injury before the trials why didn't you alert the national coaches/officials/selectors, explain that you would compete and do your best, but request a second chance at the qualifying time later in the year. This may have kept your options open. Alternatively, had you withdrawn through injury, the selectors may well have given you a second chance. Secondly were you given bad advice by your coach? Your coach should have sorted all this out for you. I hope you keep going in the sport Yours sincerely Graham McCarthy  

Mark Foster said:


Hi Graham - Firstly I did not read the selection policy as I did not think I would have a problem doing the time, secondly, the British Swimming Team physio was treating me and would have been liaising with Bill Sweetenham and telling him that I had an injury. It was not until I saw the reaction times in the final that I was 0.15 of a second slower off the block than I normally am. I only missed the time by 0.05 of a second and am hoping to have a second chance at the Europeans in 4 weeks in Madrid. Fingers crossed!




Amalie has a question: You've had a fairly long career, has there been any times when you've thought about quitting and what's kept you going? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Amalie - I only started training properly in 1997 so I only feel I have been swimming for 7 years, although I raced in the Commonwealth Games in 1986, I just did it for fun back then. I believe I still have a lot of improvement to make and believe that the next 4 years will be the best.




Louise wants to know: Who is the best coach you've worked with? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Louise - My present coach, Colin Jackson.




Jim wants to know: What are some really good cardiovascular 'friendly' foods? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Jim - Wholemeal bread, pasta and wholegrain rice, and also vegetables are a good source of carbohydrate.




Bob wants to know: What tips would you give an up and coming sprinter? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Bob - Depending on how long their race is train specifically for that period of time, for example like me, I last 20 seconds, but would not swim up and down for 2 hours, I need to be explosive.




Sarah wants to know: Do you have any input in making suggestions for improvement in swimming apparel? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Sarah - No I leave that up to my sponsors Speedo.




Sam wants to know: How do you prepare mentally before a big race? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Sam - I am a lot more conscious about how much rest I get (sleep) and make sure I eat the right foods.




James Smith wants to know: Hello Mark, Do you ever plan to release an insight into your training regime i.e. what your typical swimming session is like and what you work on in the gym? Being a sprinter myself I would find it very useful. Thanks James Smith 

Mark Foster said:


Hi James - I may look at writing a book in the next few years.




Mike wants to know: Do you think we'll be seeing anything different in swimming at this years Olympics? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Mike - You will see an American swimmer sweep the board and possibly win 7 gold medals.




Olivia wants to know: I hear you were recently body painted, what was that like? Can we see the pictures anywhere? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Olivia - In the Daily Telegraph last Saturday, and are available through the Press Association and the photos should be available on shortly.




John wants to know: What would you want to do when you retire from swimming? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi John - Be happy in whatever I chose to do.




Katie wants to know: Do you ever regret the way you approached your swimming at the start of your career? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Katie - No, when I started swimming it was very much a social activity, I think had I of been more serious when I was younger I wouldn't still be doing it now.




Matt wants to know: How would your training regime change in the few months leading up to the games? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Matt - Between September and March I do all my conditioning work and then do more specific training and racing up until the games.




Steve wants to know: Will you be going to the world short course championships? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Steve - Yes.




Ben wants to know: Do you follow a strict diet? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Ben - Because my event only lasts 22 seconds and because I train explosively I eat lots of protein and not much carbohydrates. This is because I want to get strong, but don't last a long time.




Gemma wants to know: What's your biggest regret? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Gemma - Not training like an athlete sooner.




Janie wants to know: I hear you have an interest in fashion, what do you consider is the best look for you? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Janie - I suppose because I spend so much time in tracksuits I like to look smart.




Greg wants to know: What is your greatest sporting moment? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Greg - Becoming the fastest human in water!.




Ned wants to know: Hi Mark. How come you avoid building excessive muscle bulk when training? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Ned - To tone muscle you do lightweights high reps and to get stronger without getting bigger you do high weight low reps.




Zak is asking: Hey Mark. How many High Performance drinks need to be drunk a day until I can feel some benefit? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Zak - I normally drink 1 first thing in the morning and last thing at night.




Ella wants to know: Hi Mark. How's the shoulder? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Ella - I am still having physio and rehab but should be 100% in a couple of weeks. It's not painful but I still don't have full range of movement.




Jessica wants to know: What other sports do you like? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Jessica - I like playing Golf and do charity golf events.




Dom wants to know: What do you put your swimming longevity down to? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Dom - I think I am very lucky to do a sport for a living, it's something that many people would like to do, I'm like a fine wine and I get better with age.




Jim wants to know: Why do swimmers cut back on carbohydrates whilst in training? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Jim - They don't!.




Carrie wants to know: You obviously have a very demanding training schedule, how do you stop yourself from getting run down? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Carrie - Making sure I eat healthy and supplementing my diet with nutritional supplements such as Wellman products.




Lisa wants to know: What is your favourite pastime? 

Mark Foster said:


Hi Lisa - Walking my dogs (George and Em), drinking coffee, house hunting and shopping.







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