Every swimmer gets the taper blues at some point. How you handle that part of your taper can help or hurt your mental game leading into a big meet. Let’s discuss what physiological changes are occurring in your body that lead to taper blues and why you shouldn’t have a single worry.
Swimmers train ferociously and incessantly until taper rolls around…and then, quite suddenly, all of the heavy training stops. You get to sleep in, have easier practices, and lift what a 10 year old could pick up in the weight room. So why do you feel sluggish or tired? During this major shift in training, there is less demand on the neuromuscular system. Fewer repetitions in dryland and yards in the pool mean that for the first time in awhile, your body is getting the recovery it needs to perform—but there is a delay. You may not instantaneously feel light, fast, and ready to go—that’s why taper goes on for weeks, not days. To recover from months of intense training, your body needs time to get the kinks out.
Your job is to continue tapering the way you are supposed to. You’ve never changed your approach to training based on how you’ve felt in practice before, and this is no different. Being aware of the blues is different from stressing about them. If you can’t ignore them when they set in, take time to do a little more foam rolling and stretching. Embrace taper. Swimmers who try to control everything in their taper end up worrying to the point of negativity, while the best athletes put faith in their training and know that their performances will reflect their cumulative effort over the season.
With the taper blues, you can feel tired, achy, anxious to race or train, and even irritable. No matter what, do not alter your taper or try to increase your yardage beyond what your coach instructs you to swim. Believe in yourself, your coach, and your body by giving it the rest it needs to perform and being confident heading into your championship meet.
BridgeAthletic works with elite professional, collegiate, and club swimming programs to provide a turnkey solution for dryland training. Led by Nick Folker, the top swimming strength and conditioning coach in the world, our team builds stroke-specific, custom-optimized dryland programs for each of our clients. The individualized workouts are delivered directly to athletes via our state of the art technology platform and mobile applications. Check Nick and BridgeAthletic out as recently featured in SwimSwam.
Nick Folker is the Co-Founder and Director of Elite Performance at BridgeAthletic. Nick’s athletes have won 22 Olympic Medals, 7 team NCAA Championships and over 170 individual and relay NCAA championships. Megan Fischer-Colbrie works as the Sports Science Editor at BridgeAthletic. Megan was a four-year varsity swimmer at Stanford, where she recently graduated with a degree in Human Biology.
The Championship Series by BridgeAthletic is designed to empower athletes with tips from the pros that will help them reach peak performance come race day. We will be covering competition-focused topics such as nutrition, recovery, stretching, and mental preparation.
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Thank you for making this. I grind every practice during the season, and for the first time on this taper I’m getting Hamstring cramps, weakness, fatigue, everything. Didn’t understand until now
Thank you for the encouragement! I keep hoping that someone, someday, will invent a way to measure central nervous system fatigue, because I believe that fatigue – impossible to quantify until you race – is part of what bedevils coaches and swimmers during taper time. Particularly sprinters.