> Week #21: Go, Team Go | GoSwim TV

Week #21: Go, Team Go

We are now into the mythical era of the season � the days and weeks when we pursue the legendary and sometimes-elusive �taper.� Many athletes think there is some sort of magic to taper. They think that if they simply cut back on their yardage�or simply start to go FAST with a little more rest�they will automatically have best times at the Big Meet. This may be true for some swimmers, but one thing is certain: No one can undo what wasn�t done. If you haven�t put in the work throughout the season, then you won�t be able to produce at taper time. I think the worst cop-out in swimming is, �I didn�t hit my taper.� To me, that�s like saying, �I didn�t do the work all season.� Taper is hit during the first six months of work, not in the last five weeks of resting. There is no magic taper set that will get an athlete race ready if the ingredients aren�t already in place.

Some coaches believe there is a strict science to how to taper your athletes for success. This is definitely true�to a certain extent. But I believe taper is primarily about inspiring confidence in your athletes, and that it�s this confidence that inspires great performances (as long as the work was done throughout the season). Producing great, inspired and inspiring performances is why coaches get paid the big bucks and live the lavish lifestyle that comes with coaching swimming.

Athletes aren�t the only ones who need a dose of confidence during taper. Coaches need it, too. Going into taper, I have to believe that I have done the work that needed to be done. Now we need to rest and sharpen — not break ourselves down.

At this point of the season I like to pick one definite and attainable goal. I want each athlete to take ownership of his or her swimming. Yesterday we spent both of our practices working on breakouts and breakouts alone. That was their solitary focus and I was there just to give positive feedback. I have phased myself into the role of a cheerleader. Our practices now go a little like this.
20-MINUTE WARMUP
I ask each athlete to pick one thing they want to work on. They try to experiment with doing that one thing to an exaggerated degree, then they focus on that one thing while drilling, and finally they try to do that one thing with more effort.

WARMUP SET:

* 800 8 x 100
* Odds: Your choice of stroke Long Quick Flow 2 cycles
* Evens: 3rd-event stroke Fast for 2 cycles
* During this part of practice I try to get them moving with focus. I try to keep the intensity low while still getting going.

MAIN SET: 1500

* 10 x 50 @ 1:00
* 4 Broken @ :05 RI
* 4 Broken @ :10 RI
* 2 from the blocks, focus on all-out BREAKOUTS

* 10 x 50 @ 1:00 stroke
* 4 Broken @ :05 RI
* 4 Broken @ :10 RI
* 2 from the blocks, focus on all-out BREAKOUTS
* Fliers and breaststrokers go breakouts in stroke and continue in freestyle.

* 10 x 50 @ my discretion and on my command to �go.�
* Double descend
* Descend 1-4
* Descend 5-8
* #5 is faster than #1 and #8 is faster than #4.
* 2 all out from the blocks

The main set is dedicated to attaining the one goal of the day � and today it is achieving high-speed, forward-moving BREAKOUTS. We are working a lot with broken swimming and high-rest sets. Seems like an obvious choice because we are tapering.

WARMDOWN: 400

* Alternate 25 drill and 25 focused swim.
* End with perfect swimming.

Glenn wrote an article a little while ago called �Time Is Fleeting,� which is very pertinent to tapering. That wasn�t really the intent of the article, but some of my athletes have read it and see what the point is. In my group I have six senior athletes who are in their final season as collegiate athletes. Most of them will swim their final competitive races at league championships at the end of this season. With that in mind, they have a perspective that gives their swimming purpose. It is very easy as a coach to work with these athletes at the end of the season. They are driven by their own ambition, not mine. In addition to this season being the end of the end for them, they also have the most experience with the program. They are, as I like to say, the �Work Horses� of the sprint program. I think that it is really important to allow my senior athletes to serve as the guiding force for the rest of the team. Everyone is approaching the end of his/her season, but I want the seniors to serve as leaders. They can provide the example that is needed in the pool.

My job at the end of the season is really pretty simple: Support each athlete and give him or her the confidence needed to swim well. My job isn�t to let people know what they haven�t done; that part of the season is done with for me and for them. We will see how the extra rest is starting to pay off this weekend when we have another duel meet with a league rival.