3 “No-No’s” After Christmas Training

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

by Robbie Dickson, Swimming World College Intern

Both Christmas and New Years have passed, and most teams are coming down the homestretch of their Christmas training. Many swimmers are thankful (maybe even excited for school to start again!) that they have survived the most brutal training period throughout their season. For college swimmers, the end of Christmas training means that conference meets are now on the horizon and taper is inching near. Club swimmers have a little bit longer.

Both groups of swimmers understand that how they handle these upcoming weeks and months, will determine how the end of the season will play out. These are three NOT “To-Do’s” after Christmas training:

1. Don’t Overreact at Post-Christmas Training Meets


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

This is a big one. You are just coming off some of the most grueling and intense training in your careers, please do not overreact and get down on yourselves if you don’t hit a best time at a small meet in January. Most swimmers are exhausted and can hardly move their bodies up and down a pool let alone get close to their best times. Coaches use this minor meets in order to fine-tune the technical details such as starts and turns as well as see what they need to work on as championship season approaches.

For swimmers, these post-Christmas Training meets should be used to work on specific parts of a race. Testing one’s ability to negative split or getting out in-front of the heat to see if you can hang on are two very important strategies that should be ironed out before February and March. Just stay relaxed and trust that the training that you have put in thus far will carry you to plenty of best times when it matters.

2. Don’t Take Advantage of Your Body


Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The human body was not created to withstand the hundreds of thousands of yards that we put it through, but hey, that’s why they call Michael Phelps a “superhuman”. The stress that we put our bodies through on a daily basis could probably be considered as some type of torture. But after Christmas training, taking care of yourself becomes a pivotal factor as to how you perform at the end of the season. You can not take, take, take from your body and expect it to give you anything in return.

Sure you may think that all season you’ve been able to stay up late, eat poorly, and not stretch once practice is over. You may assume that your body will recover on its own and that once you leave the pool, you are not responsible for taking care of yourself. But it is the complete opposite. It is imperative to make sure you are getting a proper night of sleep. There is no powder or drink that is going to help you recover more than a good night of sleep.

A balanced diet is also key to recovering and helping your body reset for the next workout. The drive-thrus and junk food will still be around once the season is over so if that is your primary concern, I think you will be okay. Lastly, you cannot rely on your coach to provide you with recovery days if you do not take the initiative to stretch or foam roll once you leave the pool. It only takes 15-20 minutes, but it can make the difference between a good and a great championship meet.

3. Don’t Ask When Taper is Coming


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Yes, this is a gigantic no-no. Coaches will not take too fondly of the question and may even threaten to NOT taper you if you’re the unfortunate swimmer that asked the question. We know that eventually, whether you swim the 50 or the 1650, that taper is going to come in some way, shape, or form. Taper is a touchy subject for most coaches. For them, it is the most stressful part of the season and it is where they feel the most pressure.

An entire season of training and planning is all riding on how well executed the taper is. Even the great Bob Bowman got nervous when tapering Michael Phelps for the 2015 US Nationals in San Antonio. Bowman was worried about how to handle Phelps’ new muscles and when he should be dropped down from rigorous training. Thankfully, Phelps put these worries to rest with his three No. 1 in the world performances.

If you think that asking, “Coach, When is taper coming?”, in the five seconds on the wall during a main set is a good idea. Then I would probably advise you to hold your breathe when you get to the wall next because your coach is going to give you an earful. Don’t push your coach over the edge, he has plenty of painful sets to throw your way if you do.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. Jace Cartwright

    I like how the third “no-no” is essentially: “don’t piss off the coach!!”

  2. avatar

    What’s this Christmas training? I can barely move after starting back training from almost two weeks of doing no exercise and eating too much. The pool was closed and there was no swimming club over the Christmas holiday.