Think of an athlete’s dinner plate and you’re probably imagining pasta, pasta and a little bit more pasta, but synchronised swimmer Olivia Federici admits she loves nothing more than embracing her inner señorita in the kitchen by whipping up a Spanish tortilla.
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Behind the sequins, lipstick and smiles, synchronised swimmers boast a phenomenal aerobic capacity, second only to that of long-distance runners according to a study of London 2012 competitors.
In addition to that, they must possess incredible muscle strength, athleticism and flexibility, so it will be no surprise to learn that food is somewhat of a priority in synchronised swimmers’ lives.
For 26-year-old Federici, who has just been named in the Team GB line-up for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games alongside duet partner Katie Clark, the next couple of months are paramount in her preparation for her third Games.
And with a formidable training schedule in place right up to competition day in Brazil, Federici admits her diet has never been more crucial.
“We train eight to ten hours a day so we need a lot of fuel, including a lot of protein, a lot of carbohydrates and we need to have a very balanced diet,” she said.
“Our quantities need to be raised massively but obviously it is difficult for us because we’re in the pool all the time so trying to fit eating in around training so that we don’t lose anything is the main challenge for us.
“Every morning, I have a big breakfast with lots of protein and carbohydrates to set me up for the day, something like porridge.
“We have a lot of protein shakes during the day, and we always have food on the poolside throughout training so that we are eating at every opportunity we have.
“Lunch, again, is very protein and carbohydrate heavy and then the evening is where we really eat the biggest meal.”
As is the case with any athlete, Plymouth-born Federici must be constantly aware of what she is eating, something that can be a challenge as she jets all over the world to compete.
But when she is at home in Hertfordshire, Federici admits she is somewhat of a dab hand in the kitchen.
“I really love cooking so I like to try my hand at everything, but I do like the easy stuff too so lots of pasta and rice, as is the case with any athlete,” she said.
“I’m a big fan of making tortilla, and I love trying new things and finding different ways to fuel myself ahead of training and competition.
“A lot of our training camps this year have been in Majorca, and we stay at our coach’s house and she cooks us lots of delicious food. That includes lots of tortilla, so it makes me very happy when we’re out there.
“Our coaches are very good at finding us the right places to stay because our food is so important to us.”