What does ‘taper’ mean?

Junior+Jory+Gould+swims+backstroke+and+freestyle+for+SHS.+When+the+team+tapers%2C+coach+Dr.+Daniel+Carl+splits+everyone+into+different+group+depending+on+which+meet+they+are+focusing+on%3A+GMCs%2C+Sectionals%2C+Districts%2C+or+States.+Gould+is+gearing+towards+Districts%2C+so+she+is+still+in+the+%E2%80%9Cpre-taper%E2%80%9D+mode.

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Junior Jory Gould swims backstroke and freestyle for SHS. When the team tapers, coach Dr. Daniel Carl splits everyone into different group depending on which meet they are focusing on: GMCs, Sectionals, Districts, or States. Gould is gearing towards Districts, so she is still in the “pre-taper” mode.

Isaac Golstein, Managing Editor

Swimmers look forward to the end of the season for a multitude of reasons. When they talk about “tapering,” though, people outside of the swimming community rarely know what they are referring to.

“Tapering is one of those things that you really just have to experience in order to understand,” senior Rick Niu said.

Basically, tapering is the process of giving the body more and more rest to maximize the rebuilding of the body. Throughout the swim season, muscles are constantly broken down and rebuilt during practices and meets. So tapering slows the breakdown to result in an eventual “peek-performance” stage.

“From my experience, as the tapering process continues, we become more and more of a team. Realizing the point where we stand in the season, we bond over small happening in practice,” junior MacKenzie McMullen said.

It may seem contradictory to what one would think, but during taper, as swimmers are preparing for the biggest meets, they cut back on their work. Now, this is not to say they are not still focused, and put in maximum effort during the minimal sprints, but yardage gradually drops from around 5000 a practice to eventually 2000.

“When it all works out, the feeling is somewhat magical. It’s like standing on a fine line between ‘peek-performance’ and being out of shape, but trusting that the coach will keep you on the better side of that line,” Niu said.

Along with the work, or lack of work, in the pool, maintaining rest and staying healthy is also key. Remaining positive and happy and eating nutritiously is essential for a good well-rounded taper.