Reading Into Pre-Taper Times

Photo Courtesy: Brooke Wright

Commentary by Casey Barrett

It’s such a delicate time. U.S. Olympic Trials start in six weeks. It’s almost taper time. Maybe the bulky sprinters have already started resting. Wherever you are in your training cycle, there’s not much time left. Every race at every meet from here on out carries added weight.

There’s an irresistible urge to read into the results coming in. That’s not always a healthy thing for the athletes and coaches to do. There are infinite examples of speedy in-season times not always translating to the shave. And there are just as many examples where slow sluggish times did not predict the crazy fast excellence to come. Every body reacts to rest differently. As each body ages, the vagaries of needed rest change with it. Beware of reading too much into these things.

But how can a bystander and a fan resist? When you see Anthony Ervin drop a 21.98 and a 49.30 at the Charlotte Grand Prix, just a few weeks after arriving at SwimMAC, how can you not think that the Dave Marsh Magic is at it again? Four years ago he helped transform Kara Lynne Joyce into the confident sprint star she’d always been, and in Omaha in 2012 she raced onto her third Olympic team in the 50 free. Suddenly, Ervin seems poised to do the same.

How can you not read into Dana Vollmer’s stunning times last week in Charlotte? 57.23 in the 100 fly; 53.59 in her 100 free prelims. Seems safe to say that she has some big time swims in store for Omaha.

What about 19-year-old Lilly King’s 1:05.73 in the 100 breast? Or Conor Dwyer’s 1:46.68 in his 200 free? Both swims that would appear to indicate they’re poised for peak performances in six weeks time.

And how about Ryan Lochte, never a man known for sharp in-season form. Lochte has always been the kind of workhorse so willing to put in the heavy pain that he’s never put much stock in broken down times at all these prep meets. But there was Lochte in Charlotte, looking very much at ease with his performances – including a 4:16.92 and 1:58.97 in his IMs. Both times still eons from his shaved best, but clear indications that he’s rounding into form right on schedule.

At least all those swims would lead us to think so… Maybe there’s not much to be read into them at all. In an Olympic year there are really only two meets that matter – the Trials and the Games themselves.

We’ll know the truth about these pre-taper times soon enough.

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

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