Coach Knows: Racing Wisdom and Taper Reminders

Photo Courtesy: Ella Walsh

By Jamie Kolar, Swimming World College Intern.

In swimming there are common sayings. Examples include “last one fast one” and “this running is ruining my taper”. These are common and heard amongst most swimmers, but there are other quotes that are lesser known and not a widely used. These sayings normally originate from coaches and each team has their own unique jargon as well.

Over my many years in the water and my experience with dozens of coaches, each one has had a different effect on me in their own unique way. All of them passed down their wisdom in unique ways, but these four statements are the one that I have found to be the most imperative to remember during competitions, and especially during championship season.

Fast swimming is contagious.

Race Cheering

Photo Courtesy:

This is important to remember as you head into your championship meet. Competition brings out the best in us, and the certainly holds true for swimming. Mix a fast meet with taper and you have a perfect recipe for some great races in the pool.

Have confidence in your training and your own ability to go fast, however if you still need convincing that you will do well at you end of season meet, this is definitely a good go to reason.

It is just a hole in the ground with water in it.

IDM Berlin Open 2017 pool image

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Whether it is a national meet or a in season meet, the pools never change. Somehow in our eyes they always seem to look different during a championship meet.

It does not matter if there are a million cameras or banners or lights in the arena. It does not change the fact that a pool is a pool. Just a hole in the ground with blocks on one side and flags on both ends. No matter what environment you are in, it does not change what kind of swimmer you are.

You cannot worry about the person in the lane next to you, you can only worry about what you are doing.

Foto Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse 04/08/2015 Kazan ( Russia ) Sport 16 Campionati del mondo FINA 2015 - Uomini 200m farfalla nella foto:Chad Le Clos ( Rsa) Photo Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse 04 August 2015 Kazan ( Russian ) Sport 16 Campionati del mondo FINA 2015 - Men's 200m butterfly in the picture:Chad Le Clos ( Rsa)

Photo Courtesy: Fabio Ferrari – LaPresse

This is especially important going into taper and your championship season. Everyone tapers differently, so if your times are not what they should be or if your team mates seen to be doing better than you in practice, take a deep breath. Know that there are peaks and valleys to every taper, and the peak is best had at the end.

When you are at the meet, don’t worry about who you are racing or how they are going to swim their race. Focus on yourself and your own race strategy. It is much easier to focus on one person (yourself) than multiple. Be confident in your own abilities rather than compare them to someone else’s.

Win with humility and lose with grace.


Photo Courtesy: Nicholas McMillan

This one is just advice for life in general, but is shows its prevalence in a championship meet. No one likes a sore winner or a sore loser. It pays to be humble. Congratulate the person that swam next to you, whether it was a good or bad race for either one of you. It shows good sportsmanship.

If you had a bad race, try not to pout. It is difficult to handle, especially at your end of season meet. However, you gave it your best effort and that is really all that matters. Its totally okay to be frustrated for a period of time. Being frustrated shows that you care about what you are doing.

But at some point, know that it is not the end of the world. Chances are that you will swim that event again sometime soon, and that it will go better the next time. Learn from your mistakes and move onto the next race so that you can put yourself whole heart into it and race for yourself.

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



  1. avatar

    Words to swim by.

    There’s also, it is better to over push than to be a pushover.

Author: Jamie Kolar

Jamie Kolar is a junior at the the University of Illinois studying health sciences. She swims backstroke, freestyle and butterfly and is a 2106 Olympic Trial qualifier in the 100 backstroke as well as a multiple state record holder in Illinois.

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