You can sense when a swimmer gets closer because you can catch a whiff of chlorine, you categorize them as a cult because they’re always around each other and question why they are so comfortable being half naked all of the time.

Don’t worry, swimmers are fully aware of how you perceive them.

We are a rare breed and just like any other sport have unique qualities. Today I am going to share with you a big part of a swimmer’s season: taper.

One thing you may hear a swimmer talk about a lot is taper. It is where months of work boil down to one moment. A swimmer will spend hours upon hours each week training by gradually increasing in the amount of yardage and intensity as the season goes on. Once the one major meet of the year creeps closer, the intensity and yardage start to decrease and taper begins.

The NWC conference meet will be in Federal Way this coming weekend and it is something that my teammates and I have been drooling over the past season. We have gone through many ups and downs to get to this point and it is finally time to shine.

But, taper comes with some side effects.

As our bodies experience an usual amount of rest after being beaten down for the past six months we tend to act different. During season you can see a swimmer having five plates of food for dinner, opting out of any activities past 9:30 at night in order to rise before the sun and telling a non-swimmer friend that they can’t hang out because they have practice at 5:15 in the morning.

The last few weeks of season are many things different because of taper. Random bursts of energy usually end up leaving us in a crash but most of the time you see us taking elevators or not opening doors because we say, “It will ruin my taper.” Yes, it may sound ridiculous, but you don’t mess with a swimmer’s taper. Don’t do it. We avoid stairs, we hitch a ride as much as possible and never want to walk anywhere and we aren’t afraid to admit we have become couch potatoes. We take pride in our taper as well as milk it for all it is worth. But, don’t be fooled, the dedication we put into our season requires this sacred rest where in the end, will result in a spectacular performance.

Oh, the life of a swimmer.

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