The Second Swim Speed Boost: Why Do Swimmers Perform Better in Finals?

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The Second Swim Speed Boost: Why Do Swimmers Perform Better in Finals?

Meets featuring a preliminaries/finals setup are an expected part of the competitive swimming journey. Swimmers in these competitions frequently compete twice daily, the morning critical to extend action into the evening. Many swimmers notice that their performance improves during finals, with many achieving faster times than during prelims. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon. This article will look at three major factors that can explain why swimmers tend to swim faster during finals: Motivation, opportunity and the time of day.


One of the main reasons why swimmers swim better during finals is because they are more motivated. The main goal in prelims is to get to the finals, so swimmers may not feel the same pressure or desire to perform at their absolute best. However, in finals, swimmers know they are competing for medals, titles, and personal records, which can increase their motivation and drive. Additionally, some swimmers can cruise through prelims, and save their best for the more-important moment.

Adrenaline is a hormone that prepares the body to act, and more motivation can cause it to be released. Adrenaline raises the heart rate and blood flow, which improves muscle performance and endurance. So, swimmers are more likely to give it their all during finals, which leads to better results.


Another factor contributing to better finals performance is the ability to swim in the same event a second time. Swimmers often learn from their preliminary swims and change their technique, pace, or strategy for the finals based on what they learned. The second swim allows them to correct any errors made in the preliminary swim, which can result in faster times. Additionally, swimmers can discuss their prelims races with their coaches, who can offer valuable insights and suggestions for improvement. This additional feedback and analysis can significantly affect how an athlete does in the finals, leading to better results in the end.

Time of Day

Finally, the time of day can impact a swimmer’s performance during finals. Preliminary races are usually held in the morning, while finals are held in the evening. Swimmers can use the time between prelims and finals to rest, recover, and refuel, which can help them perform better in the evening session. Also, because of their circadian rhythms, which set the body’s internal clock, many athletes do better in the evening. Research shows that athletic performance is usually at its best in the late afternoon or early evening when body temperature is highest. In the morning, the body might to be fully awake. This increase in body temperature can improve muscle function and reaction times, leading to faster swim times during finals.


Several factors contribute to swimmers performing better in finals than in preliminary races. The opportunity for a second chance to swim and improve and the time of day all impact this phenomenon. When these factors come together, they can create an environment that promotes peak performance, allowing swimmers to push themselves to achieve faster times and reach their full potential. Understanding why this speed increase is happening can help coaches and swimmers develop better ways to train and prepare for races. Swimmers can keep improving in the pool by using motivation, improving their techniques through analysis and feedback, and taking advantage of their bodies’ natural performance peaks.

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