It’s the part of the season that everyone waits all year for. Where your body and mind constantly goes back and forth between feeling amazing one week, and not so hot the next…
It’s taper time.
Tapering in swimming means that you have reached a point at the end of your season, after countless hours of intense swim practices, where you finally get to begin to rest and recover. The idea behind tapering is that it allows your body to recover from being broken down all season long so that it will be at 100% when it is time to race at your big meet. Throughout a career, swimmers will get to witness it all. And that’s what creates this roller coaster of a relationship with the lovely sport of swimming! There will always be those seasons where you don’t hit your fullest potential and others where you couldn’t have hit your taper more perfectly.
Here are 5 Tips to Hit the Perfect Taper:
Rest is an absolute must while you are tapering. During a practice, you will start to see your intervals become slower and practices become shorter. This is all in an effort to make sure your body is recovering. Some things to focus on outside of the pool include getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night, and keeping the physical activity to an absolute minimum. Hint: Take the elevator!
2. Listen to Your Coach
Always remember, your coach is here to help you swim fast! That means every practice they write for you, every piece of advice they share with you, and everything they say to you are all in an effort to help you in the long run. When your coach tells you to sprint – you sprint. When they tell you to go easy – go easy. Coaches know what they are doing, and you need to trust your coach 100% in order to optimize your taper.
3. Focus on Your Technique
Every swimmer’s technique is different. However, it is important that you are working on perfecting your technique to make sure it is as efficient, and fast, as possible. Just because you are on taper does not mean you can just swim aimlessly and daydream during practice. Focus on the mechanics of your stroke and really think about your technique as much as you can during practice.
4. Visualize the Perfect Race
It may seem silly, but visualizing your perfect race is a great way to prepare you for when it is actually time to race. You can do this right before you go to bed, or after practice by floating around in the pool. Just make sure you are in a silent and relaxed environment where you can visualize that mile in peace (Okay…maybe not the mile). When you are visualizing your race, make sure you are focusing on all the important details. If you are supposed to take 5 dolphin kicks of each wall, add it to your race you are visualizing. If you can visualize doing everything perfect in your race, it will increase your chances of doing it perfectly in your actual race!
5. Be Confident in Yourself
During taper, it is common for your body to start feeling different or unusual. Your body goes through this awkward feeling because its not used to receiving so much rest. However, time and time again, this causes many swimmers to start to panic and second-guess their entire season. Relax! You have worked and trained your butt off for an entire season to get to this point. You have put the money in the bank. Now is the time to cash out. You will swim fast. If you can stay positive and confident throughout your taper, you will get to see those results that you have been anxiously waiting for!
Taper treats everyone differently. Everyone’s body operates and reacts in their own unique way. Remember, taper is the time to relax and have fun. It is the best part of the season. If you follow these 5 tips, you will most certainly have a big smile on your face after each and every one of your races at your big meet!