Danila Izotov
Courtesy of: Mitchell Gunn-USA TODAY Sports
By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)

KAZAN, Russia, July 15. AFTER shattering another World University Games meet record in the 800 freestyle relay--in a major part thanks to Danila Izotov's leadoff that ranks number one in the world--it is obvious that the Russians are ready to go for World Championships.

When formulating my predictions, I was initially inclined to choose the Russians to win the 400 freestyle relay over both the Australians and Americans, but wouldn't let myself because it seemed like too much of an upset. Now, I am wishing I had followed my initial instinct. Barring that they aren't rested too soon, the Russian swim team, across the board, looks like they are ready to shock the swimming world in Barcelona.


I am reiterating myself when I say that swimming fast in-season can be a huge confidence boost, even though we know good and well that this is no guarantee of a fast swim later in the season. Some swimmers are lighting up their lanes in Kazan, posting personal bests and top-ranked world times. What about the swimmers who are not swimming as well as they would have hoped for during this final tune-up towards World Championships?

It only takes a few minutes of perusing social media to see that not all swimmers are as pleased as Yuliya Efimova, even though this is not their taper meet. These are the stories that usually go untold: just like the five swimmers who walk back from the Olympic final without a medal in hand.

After struggling through a painful and disappointing in-season race, how do you refocus for the main event less than two weeks away? Your head knows that the swim is not the end of the world: you just aren't ready yet. But your heart was wishing for a fast swim, one that will give you that much more confidence heading into World Championships. A negative experience at a final tune-up can sometimes make a swimmer feel like they are in the negative when it comes to confidence.

The important thing to remember is that, just like a fast in-season swim does not necessarily lead to a best time come taper, a disappointing race is irrelevant, physically, for predicting end of season performances. If anything, a swimmer can chalk up a painful swim two weeks out to "the taper blues". I always found that, when it came to taper, I always felt worse before I felt better.

Just because you aren't busting out a top-ranked time in the world at World University Games doesn't mean you won't be a threat in Barcelona. If anything, a swimmer can rest easy knowing that they are not ready too soon.

Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.

Follow her on twitter @juliah2o