Every athlete, no matter the sport, has his or her own style of preparation. They may listen to music, eat certain foods, and visualize the competition amongst other things. When it comes to swimming, the taper for Olympic Trials takes place a month before.
At the Olympic Trials, swimmers compete in front of 16,000 spectators – this isn’t the city recreation pool anymore! It takes an athlete a lot of focus to stop the nerves leading up to an important race. Swimmers begin the preparation process with a 2-3 week long taper that focuses on the sharpness of turns, dives, technique, and speed work. The taper is also a gradual drop in the yards trained in the pool and the work in the weight room to get the body ready to perform at its best. Muscle mass has a lot to due with the length of the taper. Sprinters usually taper more and distance swimmers usually taper less.
Swimmers are known to eat almost anything and everything. After all, Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories a day. Yet on taper a lot try to eat the best they can – more fruits and veggies and less desserts. I’ve known some athletes to stop eating anything dairy the entire week before the competition. To add to the healthy diet, the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep per night always helps.
Most, but not all, take part in the no shave ritual. Before and during the taper for Olympic Trials next week, a lot of swimmers will not shave until the night before or day of the event. When the legs and arms are shaved after a few months, the water feels extremely slippery making the swimmer feel quicker than ever. There is a lot of physiological reasoning as to why growing hair out can benefit a swimmer, but it’s a huge benefit in the mental game.
The swimmers at Olympic Trials who will perform the best are those who have physically prepared themselves as well as mentally prepared themselves for the competition, energy, and excitement this meet will bring.