In the early weeks of spring training, swimmers are faced with the challenge of getting back into shape for summer racing. After a solid few weeks of taper, championship meets, and multiple days off from all training, putting in the strength and conditioning that follows can be quite difficult.
As the physical demand of training lightens with taper and you spend less time at the pool, how you manage the remaining hours in your day becomes more critical.
Reach your body’s peak performance level by diminishing training volume—enabling your body to recover from the physiological stress of months of heavy training. Literature suggests the taper period should involve a reduction to 40-60% of one’s training volume to maximize performance gains.
From the moment finals end until prelims begin the next morning, you have the greatest opportunity to maximize your recovery. Knowing how to take control of those 12-16 hours away from the pool will help you perform at your best throughout the meet.
Proper race recovery strategies maximize a swimmer’s ability to perform well in multiple races and on multiple days at a meet. These strategies are perfected throughout the year, so when the competition comes around they are an integrated and expected component of the athlete’s routine.
At the end of your season, all the training is in the bag, and you are shaved, tapered, and ready to race. Perfecting your race details, such as starts, turns, and breakouts, will give you the best shot at making finals, finishing first, or hitting a qualifying time.
Turns are an incredible advantage to the athlete who can nail them. A great turn will increase your acceleration coming off the wall, giving you “easy speed” that requires no additional effort, whereas a bad turn will make you fight hard to make up for lost ground.
Good recovery between prelims and finals sessions at a meet has a huge impact on how you race in finals. The second half of the day demands much more energy, excitement, and, most importantly, mental and physical preparedness.
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.
When you’re competing for a team championship, each event contributes points to the team total. Conference meets pack all the events into three-and-a-half days while NCAA’s squeeze everything into three days. (Featured Image: University of Michigan 2013 NCAA Team Title)