This week the Sparks New Zealand Development Group was visited by Fiona Simpson, a sports nutritionist who works extensively with high performance athletes ranging from the local Super Rugby team, the Highlanders, to Paralympians. Her talk centered around what hydration and nutrition do for an athlete and the best ways to maximize performance while working within the unique routines of rowing. The group learned about high and low glycemic index foods and the proper place and time for both. They learned about what the body used for energy, how it stores it, and also how it is replenished when depleted. Fiona also shared how to make your own sports drink (think Gatorade or Powerade) at home instead of having to buy it at the store. Perhaps most significantly the group was able to sample their hydration levels with a urine sample and a digital refractometer. The verdict was that most in the group were dehydrated and will need to consume significantly more water throughout the day to maintain the quality of training they strive for. Each meal since the meeting with Fiona has seen a shift in the eating habits of the group as they debate the merits of what they eat and in what order they should eat it. Experiential learning at its best.