Taper Tunes Swimmers for Post Season

Jessi Gunn, Staff Writer

Taper: to diminish gradually.

Most students know this as an SAT word, or don’t know it at all. To swimmers however, this word is everything in the vital few weeks before a championship race.

According to senior varsity swimmer, Steven Stumph, tapering is extremely important. “The whole point of tapering is to get a better feel of the water.”

“In the middle of the training season we train really hard and our bodies are broken down, and when we taper, we go pretty light in the water so we get a chance for our muscles to rebuild and nourish themselves,” said Stumph.

Approaching the championship meets, swimmers cut down the amount of yards they swim.

Stumph said, “Usually about 4-5 weeks before the meet is when our taper starts. 2 weeks before we start decreasing the yardage a lot. Like now, a week before my big shave and taper meet, I’m only doing 1500-2500 yards for workout.” His usual yardage is 8000 yards.

There are many benefits to tapering, according to senior varsity swimmer Megan Liang. She said, “I don’t think there’s any consequences to it because you’re resting the whole time.”

There’s the physical aspect of rebuilding muscles and giving them a chance to rest, but there’s also a mental aspect. One needs to be mentally prepared. Visualization is a part of that mental preparation. Liang said that visualization is where you “lie down, or find a comfortable position and you imagine yourself in your race, in a positive perspective.”

This is prevalent in Stumph’s tapering routine as well. He said, “I usually visualize a lot, 2 or 3 times a day.”

“When I visualize, I think about my race, before and after. I visualize every little detail, down to under waters, the turn, where my thumb position is,” he said.

In addition to mentally cutting down, swimmers also shave down body hair before the big race.

“A lot of swimmers do it to get an even better feel of the water,” said Stumph.

He added, “Shaving isn’t just about taking off the hair, that helps with the drag and the resistance, but it’s all about shaving all the dead skin cells off, which gets a better feel of the water.”