What Is Tapering In Swimming?

Are you curious to know what is tapering in swimming? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about tapering in swimming in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is tapering in swimming?

Swimming is a sport that requires a delicate balance of endurance, strength, and technique. Athletes strive to achieve peak performance during important competitions, and one essential element in their preparation is tapering. Tapering refers to a strategic reduction in training intensity and volume leading up to a significant swimming event. In this blog post, we will dive into the concept of tapering, its purpose, and its impact on performance in competitive swimming.

What Is Tapering In Swimming?

Tapering is a period of planned rest and recovery that swimmers undergo before a major competition, such as a championship meet or an Olympic event. It typically lasts for a few weeks, allowing the athletes’ bodies to recover from the accumulated fatigue of intense training while maintaining their fitness levels. Tapering involves adjusting training routines, reducing overall workload, and focusing on fine-tuning technique and race-specific skills.

The Purpose Of Tapering

The primary goal of tapering is to optimize performance by enhancing physiological adaptations and allowing the body to recover from the strenuous training load. Tapering provides the following benefits:

  1. Recovery and Regeneration:

Tapering allows swimmers’ bodies to repair and rebuild muscle tissue damaged during intense training. It helps reduce inflammation, repair micro-tears in muscles, replenish energy stores, and restore overall physical well-being.

  1. Restoration of Neural Adaptations:

Intense training can impact the nervous system’s responsiveness. Tapering allows for the restoration of neural adaptations, ensuring optimal coordination, reaction time, and muscle firing patterns essential for efficient swimming technique.

  1. Improvement in Power and Speed:

Tapering allows swimmers to maintain their strength and power while shedding fatigue. With reduced training volume, athletes can tap into their muscular potential, resulting in improved power output and swimming speed.

  1. Mental Preparation:

Tapering provides an opportunity for swimmers to mentally prepare for the upcoming competition. It reduces stress levels, enhances focus and concentration, and builds confidence, allowing athletes to approach their races with a clear and positive mindset.

The Tapering Process

Tapering involves carefully planning and adjusting training routines to maximize performance. Here are key considerations during the tapering process:

  1. Reduction in Training Volume:

The overall training volume is gradually decreased during tapering. Swimmers typically reduce the number of training sessions per week and the distance covered in each session. However, high-intensity workouts are still incorporated to maintain fitness levels and retain speed.

  1. Technique Refinement:

Tapering provides an opportunity for swimmers to fine-tune their stroke technique, starts, turns, and finishes. Focusing on technical aspects during this period helps optimize efficiency and effectiveness in the water.

  1. Rest and Recovery:

Adequate rest and recovery are crucial during the tapering phase. Swimmers may incorporate additional rest days into their training schedule and prioritize quality sleep, proper nutrition, and active recovery techniques such as stretching and foam rolling.

  1. Mental Preparation and Visualization:

Tapering is a time for swimmers to mentally prepare and visualize their races. Visualization techniques can help athletes mentally rehearse their races, improve focus, and build confidence.

The Impact Of Tapering On Performance

When tapering is executed effectively, swimmers can experience significant performance improvements. Key benefits include:

  1. Enhanced Speed and Endurance:

Tapering allows swimmers to capitalize on the physiological adaptations developed during training, resulting in improved speed and endurance. Reduced fatigue and optimized recovery facilitate better performance during races.

  1. Improved Race-Day Performance:

By fine-tuning technique, sharpening starts and turns, and mentally preparing, swimmers can optimize their race-day performance. Tapering helps athletes peak at the right time, ensuring they are fresh, energized, and mentally focused for their competitive events.

  1. Reduced Risk of Overtraining and Injury:

Tapering mitigates the risk of overtraining, which can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and increased susceptibility to injuries. It provides a balanced approach to training and recovery, allowing the body to heal and rejuvenate.


Tapering is a critical component of training in competitive swimming. It allows swimmers to recover, restore their bodies, fine-tune technique, and mentally prepare for important competitions. By implementing a well-planned tapering phase, athletes can optimize their performance, achieve peak physical condition, and swim their best when it matters most. Tapering serves as a testament to the importance of balance, recovery, and strategic preparation in the pursuit of excellence in the sport of swimming.

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When Should I Start Tapering For Swimming?

Swimmers usually take one to four weeks to taper properly.

Within that time, strength training, dryland exercises, and practices need to be adjusted. During this process, it is important for the body to recover and rest. This is where the effort the swimmer has put in during the season can make a difference.

How Do You Taper Swimming Workouts?

In order to effectively taper, you’ll need to ramp up your training in the 6-8 weeks before your championship meet or race. This means longer workouts, shorter intervals, dynamic hypoxic drills, and heavier strength training out of the pool.

What Happens To Your Body When You Taper?

Tapering allows muscle glycogen stores to return to peak levels. Metabolic enzymes, antioxidants, and various hormones, depleted during training, return to their optimal ranges. Muscle and connective tissues repair and strengthen. And, the body’s immune system improves dramatically too.

How Much Time Do You Drop On Taper?

A step taper has a steep drop off of yardage beginning only 4-5 days out from a competition. Up until this point an athlete will continue with their normal training schedule with lots of race-pace efforts and then immediately cut off over 50% of their normal volume and intensity.


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What Is Tapering In Swimming

What Is Tapering In Swimming