The swimming season usually culminates in a taper. This is a period of decreased training Volume, NOT decreased training Intensity, before a major competition. It is designed to decrease the physical and mental stress that training places on the body, and allow the body to recover. A properly done taper can increase swimming power by 25% and speed by 5%. The length of the taper depends on several factors, but generally lasts 1 – 3 weeks. It will be longer for sprinters than for distance swimmers.
1 – If you don’t swim big yardage, a taper will consist of slightly decreasing the yardage & intensity and improving the content & quality of your swimming.
2 – Swim Fast but Easy. The secret is more rest in between repeats. Any work to rest ratio up to 1 : 1 is still an aerobic work out.
3 – Rehearse your swim, both Mentally and Physically. Swimming your best is 70 – 90% psychological, so detailed mental rehearsal of your events is critical. Physical rehearsal is also essential. Use every lap in practice as rehearsals for the best swim you can imagine: swim each fast lap with racing level form and intensity.
4 – Tune your Technique. You can do this by increasing the amount of drills and stroke counting during your taper. This increases your rest time and also improves your efficiency in the water.
5 – Sprint Smart. Sprint enough to familiarize your nervous system with the timing and feel of your race, but sustained hard swimming could be the worst thing to do.
6 – Warm up longer, cool down longer, shower sooner!
Once you are within 4 – 5 days, the most important ingredient is Rest & more Rest!