One effect of taper time on coaches is that it suddenly improves your eyesight. During taper, you expect to see your swimmers going faster. You look for this — and it generally happens. But as you’re looking for speed, what you ALSO see are the little things that take away from speed. Often, these are the little things that you remind your swimmers about every day. Sometimes they are the little things that you have GIVEN UP talking about because nobody seemed to pay attention. And sometimes, they are the little things that seem so obvious that you NEVER talked about them.
Whatever the case, nothing improves your "eye" for these little things better than taper. You can be watching a swimmer CRANKING it out and then — BAM — they mess up on one of the small things and they lose a second or more on the clock. It;s during taper that you really notice these things. And you become acutely aware that NOW is not the time the swimmers will learn them. And by "learn" I mean making them second nature — making them automatic to the point that you don’t have to think about them. During taper, swimmers should be thinking about pace and speed and "feel." The other stuff should be a no-brainer.
Here are some of the little things that I’m seeing during taper — and that I’ve vowed to work on from the BEGINNING of next season:
It’s so obvious when you’re on deck: A swimmer in partial streamline is just not as fast as a swimmer in STREAMLINE.
Very often, the difference between achieving a personal-best time and completing just another swim is how you touch the wall. Most swimmers are in the habit of drifting into the finish of their intervals. They let their hand drift up and over the edge of the pool, and the head and chest rise up with the hand. From on deck, it’s easy to see how this slows you down. It’s not so obvious from the water.
If you want your best chance to win a race or make a personal best time, the touch should be UNDER the water, with FINGERTIPS hitting first. The body should drive straight into the wall. The second photo here shows what happens just after an underwater, fingertip touch. The palm continues into the wall and the body drives straight into the wall. This is something that needs to be taught from Day 1 of the season.
Not Finishing at the Wall
Does this look familiar?
The solution requires the coach to stay on top of things and the swimmers to develop a team attitude for success.
]Breathing Near the Finish
No Breathing = No Brainer.